Friday, March 20, 2009

Invitation to Banquet Together with People from All Walks of Life

Invitation to Banquet Together with People from All Walks of Life”
“And they will come from the east and west, and north and south,

and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God” Luke 13:29

Jesus loved to teach in parables. He did this because parables appear to our feelings and stir our emotions; they touch us where we live in daily life! As we read a parable, we should read in such a way that it transforms our relationships, character and action.

Jesus has given Missio Lux a parable to focus on through this season of anticipating Easter. It is found in Luke 14 and it is called “The Parable of the Great Banquet Invitation.” The jist of the parable is that Jesus went to the home of one of the Pharisees, (they are the ones that were usually trying to trip Jesus up in what he says.) He saw the guests jockeying for position. So, he gave them a tip for how we are truly to respond when we are given an invitation; that is to take the place of humility, at the foot of the table. As we humble ourselves, we will be exalted by God.

But, then Jesus did something very interesting. He began to speak about the guests that are invited. This is important because in Jesus’ culture, people dined with others who had equal social status, not above, nor beneath them. His teaching most definitely caused a reaction to those that heard it.

Listen to what Jesus says:
Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

We have the opportunity in Missio Lux this Easter to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to enjoy a banquet with us. Unlike the past two times that we have gone to Occidental Square and served lunch to the poor and disenfranchised, saving all the food for them, this time we will be eating together, enjoying the banquet that Jesus speaks of in Luke 14. We will also be living out the prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus stated in Luke 13:29 that “We will come from east and west, north and south, and will recline at the table of the Kingdom of God.”

This is the definition of New Testament hospitality.

It literally means “love of a stranger” in Greek. It is a clear sign that both the host and the guest are to sit together and to accept one another and recognize one another as equals.

We are calling the Easter Celebration “A Gathering for People from All Walks of Life” because beyond the poor and disenfranchised, we envision people from different ethnicities, economic status, ages and genders.

As we do this, we are entering into Jesus dream for his Church: where we come together to celebrate our unity in following Jesus rather than staying separated due to our different worship styles, denominations, and geographic locations.

It is our privilege to be a Church without Walls.
This Easter we will be celebrating in a location that has no walls, so that we can extend the open invitation to whomever the Lord wants to bring. Ask Jesus who he has chosen for you to enter into extending an invitation. Stay open, he may surprise you!

Perhaps this is a new thought to you, to go to Occidental Square to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, rather than your normal Easter tradition. I urge you to consider Jesus’ parable and let it transform your relationship, character and actions. As you consider the invitation during the next few weeks, think through the delight you will bring to Jesus as you step out in new ways of living your faith.

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