Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Large Dinner, by Katie Snipes Lancaster

Jesus replied, “A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, ‘Come! The dinner is now ready.’ One by one, they all began to make excuses. The first one told him, ‘I bought a farm and must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I bought five teams of oxen, and I’m going to check on them. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ When he returned, the servant reported these excuses to his master. The master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.’ The servant said, ‘Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.’ The master said to the servant, ‘Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’” Luke 14:16–24

Reflection: Maybe the more typical scenario would be to cancel the banquet. If your friends can’t or won’t join you for a large dinner, maybe it’s time to call it quits. But this host decides there must be a better way. Well he’s angry, so maybe he already ordered the food and the catering bill will arrive in his inbox either way. Regardless something quite unexpected happens. He invites the poor, crippled, blind, and lame. And then seeing that there is still more room, he invites anyone from the highways and back alleys of the Ancient Near East to join his banquet. We are meant to be surprised. I’m surprised. I’ve never seen it done. Maybe never will.

It’s a little shocking how true-to-life Jesus’ parables can be two thousand years later. Is this kind of kingdom-enacting banquet taking place in Wilmette this month? Kenilworth? Winnetka? Is the host of a failed party going out to the Edens at rush hour to invite just anyone to their home for dinner? Maybe asking everyone loitering in the train station at 6 p.m. to come on by? Are they inviting the guy standing outside Walgreens asking for change? Is someone going in to invite and shepherd the woman we haven’t seen for months because she’s too frail to leave her small, crowded apartment, and too poor to have a caretaker bring her out to dinner safely? There is something real and life altering still possible when we get close to Jesus’ parables. May our inbreaking God call us to give and receive radical, absolute, fundamental, life-changing generosity, and hospitality.

Prayer: 
Change us,
O Life-Changing God.
Change us
as we give and receive
generosity and hospitality.
Amen.

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