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Posts tagged ‘the Church’

Invite Who?

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?

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Wind and Fire

Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”  (Acts 2:2-4 CEB)

God certainly made a powerful entrance through the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost!  One could hardly ignore the fierce wind and tongues of fire that ushered in the presence and power of the Spirit in the life of the disciples, and thus, the life of the Church of Jesus Christ.

We often call this the birthday of the church – at least it’s the remembrance of the birth of the Church in the world.  As in many families, the Family of God has had it’s share of in-fighting, disagreements, divisions, and angry exchanges over the centuries.  Even back to the Council of Nicaea, the church founders argued over what was the correct interpretation of the scriptures and doctrine of the Christian Church.

There are times today when I just long for the Holy Spirit to “fix” it.  As my mother used to say rather loudly at times, “Why can’t we all just get along?!”  I suppose it’s still human nature to believe that our way is the only way, so that becomes translated into church polity, theology, and Biblical interpretation.

Yet, there are many, many signs that the Church is still doing the work of Jesus in the world.  In spite of our differences, we see many ecumenical gatherings and efforts to communicate with respect, honoring each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  After all, it IS Christ who is the head of the church and the one who draws us together into the family of God.

“We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord . . . and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” is from the song They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love by Peter Scholtes (found in the United Methodist Faith We Sing, #2223).  It is that unity (not uniformity) that keeps us moving forward as the Church of Jesus Christ.

That is the wind and fire that continues to flow through the world through churches (the people) who are working in the world to carry on Jesus’ work in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty, visiting those in prison, caring for the sick, showing compassion to the outcasts, ministering to the needy, etc.

WE make a difference, not because of our differences, but because of our unity in Christ.  Let us celebrate the diversity of gifts we have in the variety of cultures, nations, denominations, and beliefs, knowing that we truly are “one in the Spirit,” and that we can bring Christ to the world through BEING the church in the world:  wind and fire, come to empower us over and over again!

Where have you seen the church at work?

How have you been part of it?

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