The True Banquet

Thanksgiving-Feast-header

Joel 1:1-13Rev. 18:15-24Luke 14:12-24

As Fall marches on and the weather turns to cold, a number of things sprinkle our daily landscape just as they do every year: talk of stewardship, talk of the harvest, Thanksgiving, and talk of big Packer wins.

OK, let’s get real….If you signed up for these Morning Reflections you certainly had to know what a huge Cheesehead I am.  So you knew what you were signing up for and have to endure: There was a big win at Lambeau last night, a slaughterfest, so much so that by the 4th quarter my mind was wandering and I began perusing Thanksgiving recipes and got thinking about what I would do this year.  My family has already signed me up for my Pecan Pie.  I’m not complaining there.  It really is good.

Those thoughts of food and banquet feasts followed me into the morning.  The parable of the great banquet is told today in Luke’s reading.  It is preceded by a repeated theme of Jesus: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you….”

I immediately thought of the Thanksgiving dinners we have here in the USA.

But so often it is a time for friends and relatives only.  What would Thanksgiving look like if we all invited the poor, the crippled, and the lame?  Jesus is making a point about the poor.  He is certainly not suggesting one should never eat with friends.  He ate with his disciples all the time.  But he also ate with the poor.

I think Jesus wants more from us than simply to eat with the poor.  Remember the law.  Remember the cleanliness code of the time.  For this time, Jesus is really speaking out of turn.  This is a clear violation of much of scripture to be eating with those who are unclean.  Really Jesus???  The lame?  The blind?  The crippled?  Ritually unclean! You have got to be kidding, Jesus!

Jesus is saying something radical here.  In essence, he is saying, “Go ahead and eat with them.  In fact, you must eat with these people.  And eating with these people immediately restricts you from Temple worship.  But no matter.  A banquet with the poor is more important than that.”

Yikes.  No wonder Jesus gets in trouble so quickly.  What a radical concept.  Radical love.  Radical inclusion.  The cost of discipleship seems to be a bit high.  And yet Jesus invites us into this life.  He requires it.  This is what is meant by the stewardship of our lives.

What a glorious banquet invitation this is, for he too invites us to a meal of which we are unworthy.  I’ll meet you there!

  -Matt

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