“When you give a banquet,” Jesus said to his host, “invite the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.”
Jesus told them a parable about a man who prepared a banquet and invited many guests. When those on the guest list declined to attend, the man instructed his servant to go into the streets and alleyways in town and bring back the poor, the hungry, the handicapped, and the lonely. The servant obeyed, but told his master there was still room at the table. “Then go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come,” the master said, “so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:12–23).
This is how Rachel Held Evans framed this encounter in her book “Searching For Sunday” …
This is what God’s kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there’s always room for more. “Holy communion knocked me upside down and forced me to deal with the impossible reality of God,” Sara (Miles) writes. “Then, as conversion continued, relentlessly challenging my assumptions about religion and politics and meaning, God forced me to deal with all kinds of other people . . . I wound up not in what church people like to call ‘a community of believers’—which tends to be code for ‘a like-minded club’—but in something larger and wilder than I had ever expected: the suffering, fractious, and un-boundaried body of Christ.
I don’t know exactly how Jesus is present in the bread and wine, but I believe Jesus is present, so it seems counterintuitive to tell people they have to wait and meet him someplace else before they meet him at the table. If people are hungry, let them come and eat. If they are thirsty, let them come and drink. It’s not my table anyway. It’s not my denomination’s table or my church’s table. It’s Christ’s table. Christ sends out the invitations, and if he has to run through the streets gathering up the riffraff to fill up his house, then that’s exactly what he’ll do. Who am I to try and block the door?
Friends, this is why we do what we do; this is why serving our community in any capacity is transformative; not only for those who partake of the bread but, also (maybe, mostly) for those who are willing to serve in Christ’s name. Thus, since the breadth of Christ’s table is infinite … whom will you invite to Christ’s table?
Blessings and Peace,