We were confident we understood the meaning of the Luke 14:15-23 text: “it’s about salvation, everyone is invited, some people turn it down, and eventually it will be too late.” It means some other things, too, like that if someone takes the trouble to make a party, you should take the trouble to attend; and not worry about the reciprocity required; and not try to avoid the other guests. Although – we have all been reluctant to go to some people’s parties, for instance because we know the host will drink too much and … well, we anticipate various awkward social situations. We could all imagine reasons why the guests in the story might not have wanted to go to a party.
It’s tough to consider that Jesus might be saying we need to apply that logic to salvation – to realize that Jesus might have been challenging the anodyne comment about how blessed people would be to eat in the kingdom of God. Maybe that comment was an effort to change the subject, to get people to agree on something (the smart suggestion of our curriculum). Jesus might have been suggesting that in real life, when the call to be part of the kingdom of God comes, when everything is ready, some people don’t think it sounds all that “blessed.” It feels like a demand on them rather than a blessing, they’re doing OK without it, they beg off. It’s the people with no alternatives who take the host up on his offer.
So, what, the kingdom of God is for losers? For down-and-outs? For people who have no other choice? Would we say that about ourselves? Something to ponder.
In church we found out that aside from the folks who have been spotted searching for rocks in the church landscaping, over 800 people have clicked on the Facebook page about the painted rocks. Not all of them the Moderator of the Christian Education Committee clicking to see how we’re doing. So, the call of the painted rocks is more alluring than we realized; thanks to #CPC Rocks and Harrison County Rocks #HCR and The Kindness Rocks ProjectTM.
And we heard more about Mark 6:30-44 and the feeding of the multitude, our pastor noting that the people in Mark had recognized the apostles as well as Jesus (“them”), because the apostles were caring for people in significant ways, making a difference; and that there are a lot of parallels with the 23rd Psalm in this story (the people lie down on the grass, by the still waters of the Sea of Galilee, and have a table prepared for them in a manner of speaking in the wilderness – a deserted place), making the episode a manifestation of the kingdom of God, shepherd-king and all, there in that deserted place, that vacate-tion place.
We were reminded that worship can be that way, too: a re-creation of the kingdom of God in the sanctuary, a kind of “birthing” and re-birthing of the Body of Christ, actually – “language I’d never heard before” our pastor said, from an article in the Christian Century about a Mennonite congregation. Worship, being together, in the presence of God, brings that reality into being …
Birth is one of those calls people do not have much choice about. When the time comes, we have to go, do, be what is called for, whether we are giving birth, or being born.
We think of birth as a blessed time, probably. But in Jesus’ world, that call to be born, or to give birth, could be a call to struggle, challenge, deprivation, concern, worse. And not only in Jesus’ world. We can have a hard time hearing the call to blessedness through, or in, all of that. Like the invited guests, maybe.
After church we had a baby shower for a couple who has been coming to the church for some months, off and on. Not everyone could come, but a good number did. Their baby is due in a few days.