Proper channels can obstruct kingdom work. While they can provide the needed skeleton for ministry development, they can also be a spiderweb of hierarchical committees that drain the passion from those who felt the initial call to action. In churches whose identity is defined by how closely disciples follow the proper channels, those who jump right into action are scolded. Perhaps the emphasis on rule-following that keeps our national borders “secure” also leads us to keep our church buildings locked up. Unfortunately this often prevents us from forming relationships with the marginalized in our midst.
Jesus didn’t disregard norms of behavior but reversed the polarity of channels that were exclusive or not in line with the character of God’s kingdom. In Luke’s account, proper channels determine the seating order of all banquet guests. The more important (that is, wealthy, powerful) one was, the closer to the host the guest would sit. Reversing the polarity meant that those with wealth and power weren’t to assume they were the most important in the room. Jesus invites the privileged to come alongside the poorest and most powerless in the room. The reverse polarity is strengthened further when Jesus instructs the host, “Do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors. . . . [Instead,] invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” Jesus turns on its head the unofficial rule of law: Be kind to those who can repay you with the same kindness. We too are invited, despite the proper channels in our contexts, to align ourselves with the marginalized and to focus time and energy on deepening relationships with them because there the heart of God beats loudest. As we rest in this heartbeat, we will know our blessedness.
God, help us stay faithful to your path. Amen.
The admonition in Hebrews 13 “to show hospitality to strangers” is vividly illustrated by Jesus’ advice to guests and hosts in Luke 14. In the topsy-turvy world of divine hospitality, everybody is family. Radical hospitality makes sense only in light of the conviction that God rules the world and therefore adequate repayment for our efforts is simply our relatedness to God and our conformity to what God intends. The texts from Jeremiah and the psalm call the people of God back to commitment to God alone, rather than to the gods of the nations and their values. God is no doubt still lamenting our failure to listen but is also, no doubt, still inviting us to take our humble place at a table that promises exaltation on a scale the world cannot even imagine.
• Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom or where do you go to ll your cup with living water?
• Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. What shape does God’s bread and honey take in your life? Where are you being invited to open your mouth and to name the gift as sacred?
• Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you offer hospitality to those closest to you?
• Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. When have you been blessed by a party of mis ts? How can you extend the table?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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