Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected. (Luke 14:13-14 CEB)
Jesus had been invited to a Pharisee’s house for a meal, not because he was a friend of the family but because the Pharisees wanted to keep an eye on him. He had become quite famous in the Galilee area especially, and many people were following him, talking about his amazing teachings, healings, and miracles.
Most of us would love to have a famous person come to eat at our house or at least go to a banquet in their honor. Being friends with a famous person makes us feel special and set apart from others. One of my college classmates went on to become a television personality who probably wouldn’t know me from a “hole in the wall.” Yet, it’s kind of fun to tell people that I “knew her when,” and she even said “hi” to me once!
So, when we think about what it would be like to hold a dinner in the famous his or her honor, we would have a pretty selective guest list. We would certainly have to invite the town’s leading citizens, our family and friends, and other folks who might be “important” to us.
In the Luke passage, Jesus noticed that the guests were seeking the place of honor, and he reminded them about humility and not presuming that they were more important from others. He also told his host to invite, as the passage above says, “the poor, crippled, lame, and blind.” In other words, care about everyone; welcome everyone to your table.
This is a reminder to us, as a church, that we welcome all through our doors, not just those who can put enough money into the offering plate to help us meet our budget or those who dress up or those who will help out on committees. The church of Jesus Christ is open to everyone!
We can exclude through our behaviors, our choice of words, through poor hospitality, through any number of ways that we send a message that someone who is different from us or “not as important” is unwelcome. For too long, the church has seen itself as the building, but the church is in the world through us – the people. We ARE the church. Let us BE the church as we build the Kingdom of God on earth.
In what ways are we welcoming to all people?
How is your hospitality?
How will you open the doors of your mind, heart, and life to those who need to hear the word of God’s love and grace?