Faithlife Sermons

Babbette's Feast

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This can be a hard lesson for some: Isak Dinsen wrote a wonderful story called Babette’s Feast. In a strict, dour community in Denmark, Babette worked as a cook. Her dream is to return to France where she was once a chef for nobility. Every year she buys a lottery ticket in hopes of striking it rich and having the money to return. One day the unbelievable happens. She wins 10,000 francs in the lottery. Because the anniversary of the founding of the community is approaching, she asks if she might prepare a small meal in honor of the day, only to be told that “it would be a sin to indulge in such rich food. “ But Babette begs them, so they finally give in so as not to hurt her, but each vows in their minds not to enjoy the feast and to, instead, occupy their minds with spiritual things, thinking that God will blame them if they have too much fun.

Babette begins to prepare. Caravans of exotic food arrive: cages of quail, barrels of wine. Finally the day arrives and the meal begins with turtle soup. The villagers force it down without enjoyment, but although they have begun to eat in silence, but before long conversation takes off. Someone smiles. Someone else giggles. The atmosphere begins to change. An arm comes up and drapes over a shoulder. Someone is heard to say, “After all did not the Lord Jesus say, love one another?”" By the time the main entrée of quail arrives, those austere, pleasure-fearing people are giggling and laughing and slurping and guffawing and praising God for their many years together. This pack of Pharisees is transformed into a loving community through the gift of a meal. One of the two sisters goes into the kitchen to thank Babette, saying, "Oh, how we will miss you when you return to Paris!" And Babette replies, "I will not be returning to Paris, because I have no money. I spent it all on the feast."

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