Radical Hospitality 2.o

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

What is our purpose,

Our call

Towards this fragmented world?

Not just being humble,

Not just walking with God,

But extending to others that same radical hospitality

Given to us, freely

Because of the One, who loves us

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

Amen

(pause)

My husband loves to tell the story of his Grandmother,

Fondly known as Big Ma.

Each holiday season,

Without fail,

Without anything in return,

She would could dinners for all of the postal workers,

Police and Firefighters

In her neighborhood on the South side of Chicago,

This was her way,

Of saying thank you,

For the service they performed, almost 24/7

For those in this neighborhood, and the whole community

And it was not just a couple of people, or maybe just the local fire house

As a child, my husband watched the stream of hundreds of people

In and out her kitchen for years!

Big Ma gave of herself, and of her resources!

These dinners were not offered at a cost

She was not a wealthy lady

She lived in a working class neighborhood

Which took care of their own

She, and many others like her

Lived out this radical hospitality

Because they had heard the Gospel,

And how the Creator God extended to them,

Without expecting anything in return

A Love without no end.

(pause)

Hearing tales such as this,

We are astounded by such selflessness

We try to quantify on the how’s

And we continue to bury ourselves in,

“But there is no way we could do that today.

We don’t have the assets,

Or the time.”

(pause)

We are not fully living into our purpose,

As people of faith, beloved.

What effectiveness,

Could we accomplish,

If we discarded the misconception

That ministry,

Only is possible,

When carefully scheduled?

Or endless access to resources.

(pause)

The Holy Spirit was definitely gaining momentum last Sunday

Stemming from many of you

Many were excited about this idea

Of not just taking breakfast to our first responders

But,

“Pastor, we need to get them to come here!”

This is ministry in motion,

Sharing this sacred space

By offering breakfast,

A simple, ordinary meal

Of pancakes and sausage,

Something many of us cook in our own homes

For our own families,

Extending to them,

These,

The Police Officers

And Firefighters

Tirelessly giving of themselves as humanly possible

Feeding them out of love

Is ministry.

(pause)

The kitchen

The dining room table,

Is where

Over Food,

Lives are shared

Stories flow

People are bonded

Stewardship of life happens!

(pause)

In fact,

The Fire Department in town was singing our praises

So delighted that we were doing this,

“Redeemer is so generous in helping us with our food drive!”

Especially mentioning our two usual suspects

Gert and Ted

(pause)

But

What if,

We,

The collective community of Christ

Not only invited those

Who have status in the communities we too are present

Who in turn would sing our praises publicly?

In those avenues of influence

Attracting a little more recognition and potential members

To come and join the Christian band

(pause)

What if we invited

“the poor,

The crippled

The lame

And the blind.”

As Jesus calls us to?

What if we invited

The homeless, who bring their invisible friends along

Those who identify as transgendered,

An existence that still is confusing and complex to many of us

Those who are still caught in the throes of meth addiction,

Because the drug embeds itself, attaching underneath of the skin

Those who give up to others their sacred bodies,

Because that’s only commodity they have to live.

What if we opened up this space,

Invited them to sit down with us

Heard their stories

Offered up our food to them?

Knowing that they could not

In no uncertain terms

EVER repay us

There would be no recognition

No recouping our time or money or food

(pause)

Why do it then,

Especially on these…undeserving…people, right?

(pause)

We’ve heard this mantra time and again,

Pushed out by society as propaganda,

Punishing them for taking the drugs or the alcohol

Although not acknowledging

That not having a healthy family system

Or accessibility to community resources towards healing

Is probably a huge factor for them

Not emerging from that hellish darkness

(pause)

Punishing them for not having enough strength

To leave an abusive situation

Although not acknowledging that neither the system

Nor the laws

Are enforced to protect the vulnerable

To protect and shatter that wall of silence and shame

And that there is an absence of places of safety

And yet people picket and proclaim

They are pro-life

(pause)

Punishing them for being lazy

Not getting up and finding work,

And a home

Although not acknowledging that the absence of radical hospitality

And this system of inequality imbedded in our society

To where people don’t get a living wage,

So they can get 8 hours of sleep in a clean bed

So they can look presentable when we invite them to the table…

And we,

Who stand in these greener pastures

Who are jockeying for a place of honor at the table

Are shocked when a guest,

Named Jesus,

Begins to call us out

To something deeper.

(pause)

In this Gospel passage,

We as sisters and brothers in Christ,

May have been exposed to a superficial message-

If you are seen as humble

And you give up your seat

Your host will surely see you,

And reward you

With an even better one!

This is sometimes where,

The Gospel starts,

And stops

Do good,

So you can profit.

Jesus delves deeper,

Challenging those who were gathered,

Once more breaking the rules,

As He just has done,

Healing on the Sabbath,

Now,

Dispersing with proper guest etiquette.

Jesus teaches them

And reminds us

That this hospitality

Goes beyond our understanding

Speaking

“When you are invited by someone

To a wedding banquet”

(pause)

The wedding banquet

Where families,

Extended communities

Friends

Gathered together to celebrate

New beginnings

Fellowship

Reconnect,

And yes, even a little vanity because we are human,

To be seen.

But how many of us have caught ourselves grumbling,

When we do not have a prominent or favorable seating place

When our table is all the way in the back of the banquet hall,

Especially when,

We broadcast how much we have spent

Or how many wedding gifts we have brought.

(pause)

How many times,

Have we seen among churches,

On Sunday mornings

A sacred time to come together,

To worship,

To celebrate Life

And yes,

To be seen.

Especially when we hear people grumbling

When the guests or visitors sit in the front pews,

That clearly belong to so and so’s family,

Whose family founded this church

Or whose family funds this church.

Worse even,

We scrutinize who can,

Who is deserving enough

To be called to the Table,

As if we are in control.

We stand at the doors of the church,

Not to welcome,

But to criticize

Seeing if they pass our test

We want to see what they are bringing,

what they are offering

Rather than going beyond our comfort zone,

Our church doors,

Inviting those who are discarded by others,

Into a place of honor in our sacred space

We shut the doors,

In so many ways.

Rather than following Jesus’s instructions

Following Jesus’s footsteps,

We ignore what He has called us to,

And we seek those places of honor

Because in this life,

Sometimes sadly it brings us comfort,

Because it’s something we are able to hold up

Or hold onto,

(pause)

The wedding banquet

The day that the kingdom of God,

And this broken Creation

Will be melded into One

Who then, will have that place of honor?

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Remember the two sons of Zebee-

“Jesus, which one of us will sit on your right and your left?”

Will we be arguing about this, even on that day of days?

About who should enter first or be seated first?

Is it by the number of days we performed charitable tasks?

Or how much we have given? Will we have receipts or spreadsheets to back this up?

(pause)

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled,

Those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Good News is,

And what we have forgotten beloved,

Is that Jesus Christ,

Gave up that place of prestige,

And honor

Gave up something most precious

Himself

Offered up Himself AT THE TABLE,

So that we,

Children of God,

Would be able to be fed,

Nourished

Healed

Made Whole

So that we would have LIFE

We forget that Jesus Christ,

The Son of God,

Lived out a radical hospitality

So that we might forever be connected

With the Creator God,

Because of God’s Love,

And Mercy.

But the Good News is,

Jesus becomes that guest once more-

Jesus teaches us,

Instead of discarding us,

Because we are unworthy,

Unlovable

Undeserving at times

But Jesus does not see us marked by our SINS.

Jesus sees us as beloved children of the Creator

Jesus has lived His life as us,

And Jesus Forgives US

And then extends that radical hospitality-

HERE

Empowers us RIGHT HERE

At the TABLE

Jesus is host,

And transforms our unworthiness,

Our emptiness

Into life sustaining mercy and grace.

(*Disclaimer* The following ending to my sermon was ad libed or rather flowed as the Holy Spirit pushed me, but the following words are my thoughts…

end with the story about being immersed in a sabbatical moment last weekend with the BFF and company, and how this homeless person was asking for money…and then asked for leftovers seeing we were carrying food. I had a couple of knee jerk reactions-Giving someone who hasn’t eaten and has no access whatsoever to good food, to give him something that I had eaten-was a horrible idea, and treating that person as if they were nothing more than an animal. My husband, seeing the meal I had purchased for him and our daughter to share, full of tacos and refried beans and rice-handed this untouched and ready meal to this nameless person. And I experienced my second knee jerk reaction-for a moment I said to myself, but I bought that for…see there exposed is our weakness. And as we walked away, I was thankful of my husband’s example of radical hospitality without a thought-and now I had to strive to exude that hospitality to others, because of the love that has been shown to me, in all of us, in so many ways. Yes, sometimes we don’t know what we are doing or if we are doing the right thing or how do we work through being uncomfortable and the knee jerk reactions because we are human. BUT the Good News is that Jesus walks with us, and opens up the Table to us, and shows us, and gives us LIFE so that we can live out our lives, not for ourselves, but for what the Creator.. So, whose with me to live out radical hospitality? (if show of hands, say awesome!)

 

Thanks Be to God

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s