Lent leads us into both reflection and expectation. Even as we honor our histories and our ancestries, with all their gifts and their griefs, we anticipate the ways that resurrection can recreate them–and us. The God who inspired “something old” is still at work, bringing Easter ever nearer, promising and fulfilling “something new” for the world.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2)

God’s invitation in Isaiah 55 doesn’t read like a Lenten text:

You are Cordially Invited to
Come to the waters!
Come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk!
Eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food!

It sounds more like a Mardi Gras party than an Ash Wednesday service; a far cry from the ascetic sacrifices of our Lenten traditions (give up chocolate! give up coffee! give up sugar and wine and butter and bread!).

God says: Lean in close, come over here, listen carefully, and I’ll feed you. I’ll give you life. I’ll make new the promise I made to David, and you’ll join in the Psalm as a witness to my unending goodness:

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations! (Ps. 89:1)

In covenant with God, you’ll realize that any bread you can afford won’t fill you, and any work you can achieve won’t fulfill you. In covenant, you’ll find nourishment in God’s mercy, and you’ll find your life’s labor in love. You’ll be welcomed to the banquet. And then you’ll be sent out to give invitations to everyone you meet: thumbtack them to bulletin boards, duct tape them to street signs, engrave them on parchment, post them on Facebook. Then be prepared; the nations will come, begging for pardon. They’ll come, hoping for mercy. They’ll come, expecting to pay.

But God’s feast is beyond price. No amount of cash can buy a ticket; in fact, only empty pockets will get you in. So give up counting your dollars. Give up working overtime, give up building up your accounts. Give up thinking that you can do enough, earn enough, be enough (be good enough, be rich enough, be worthy enough) to deserve a place at the table.

Your ways aren’t my ways, says the Lord. (Thanks be to God!)

Give them up, and come to the feast.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.