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The Banquet

Church got me again this morning.

The pastor has been doing a series on Jesus's parables this summer, and this week, it was the Parable of the Great Banquet. Here's the relevant passage from Luke's gospel:

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” -Luke 14:15-24 (NIV)

During the passing of the peace this morning, the pastor asked us to tell the other folks we were greeting what our favorite type of party was. Early morning slow thought caused me to undiplomatically (but not altogether dishonestly) answer that "I'm not much of a party person." At times like this, I can't help but think how fitting my name is - like my Biblical namesake, I try, but I progress in my faith more often than not by failing forward.

The sermon in large part dealt with not making excuses and not excluding others. I am decent at the latter, but I am terrible at the former. My introverted, somewhat socially-anxious nature tends to make me hesitant about social events, particularly large ones where the guest list is, as my pastor mentioned numerous times this morning, "EVERYONE." More acceptable and probably still honest answers to the question this morning might have been "adventuring" for snark factor or "small, quiet, and intimate."

Big social events like weddings or the going-away get-together of my friends currently living in Scotland tend to leave me feeling like a fish out of water, especially at the start. But I have observed something in even those contexts. Often at large events like that, you can find some like-minded folks who you can gravitate towards and talk with, and if you turn your eyes outward, you find more groups doing the same.

Over here, with me, are the geeky ones. Over there are business folks. At that table you'll find the local sports fans. That little cluster over there is about to request some energetic music from the DJ and tear up the dance floor. I know those people from church. That group is having a deep academic discussion about some interesting topic. There's a new person wandering alone. There's a person that looks like they're struggling. I'm not comfortable with all of them, but they have every bit as much cause to be here as me. In many cases, more. I may need to talk to some of them. A few of them may benefit from being able to talk to me. And God loves all of us.



Everybody. Right.

Photo by Gor Davtyan on Unsplash

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