So much of our new neighborhood church is spent around the table. I love this. And I want to follow Jesus’ example who was known for being quite the party host, who often invited himself over for dinner, who compared the kingdom to a banquet and a wedding feast, and who was accused of being a drunkard and consorting with those “less reputable” types. As one who is looking to redefine what church looks like today including my role as a pastor, I use words like spiritual director, neighborhood curator, artist and yes, party host. I love to host parties, share meals, extend hospitality and to receive it. And to me, it is such a huge part of what the kingdom looks like here in the neighborhood. We invite strangers, neighbors, friends, folks like us and folks different than us. All are welcome and all are invited to the feast of God.
“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” - Luke 14:15
When the man at the table with Jesus said these words, he was thinking of the “chosen” ones, the Jews who kept God’s laws, not the immoral Gentiles or the unclean and wretched castaways of society. But Jesus responded to him with this parable in Luke 14 of the banquet, where those who made lame excuses to the invitation were shut out. Instead, the invitation went out far and wide extending to everyone: rich and poor, black and white, Christian and Muslim, educated and non-educated, upstanding and downtrodden. It seems everyone is invited to the feast of God.
I love big, long banqueting tables like at wedding receptions where the community can gather and feast together. I want one in my dining room (if it would only fit) and one in my backyard. I believe that hospitality is one of the primary ways that we embody the good news in our neighborhoods, work places and schools. And with summer upon us, the Seattle freeze might just be thawing a bit over the next three months. So we have a beautiful opportunity to be a people of love and grace by extending radical hospitality and welcome to all we encounter. And so I encourage us as people of The Way to look at our calendars and to weekly (even daily) offer hospitality. I challenge you to invite others into your homes and into your lives. Whether it is a bbq, a beer, a walk or a conversation. And to not only invite those just like you, but to also share meals with those who are different from you, who are in need, who are lonely and who are broken. For blessed are all who partake of the extravagant feast of God.
by Jessica Ketola