Saturday, 27 August 2016

Waiting to be invited

In this week’s piece of scripture taken from the letter to the Hebrews we are given concrete instructions for navigating the faith journey, a list that followers of Christ look to while walking in this weary world. The writer reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, “and through this radical truth we are freed to live in mutual love. So what does this mutual love look like in action? It looks like hospitality, particularly to strangers; after all, we too are sojourners in a strange land. Radical hospitality has this strange way of rippling beyond our meagre expectations to produce unexpected and abundant results.

Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah), for example, learned firsthand about the results of entertaining angels unawares. Mutual love looks like remembering those in prison as if we were sharing their cells and experiencing their torture. It looks like honouring our covenantal relationships and keeping our promises to one another in marriage. Oh, but there’s more! Contentment is key; we keep our eyes on Jesus as our provider and source of all good rather than loving money and believing it can outdo divine abundance. In the same vein, we are to share and give generously, all while continuously praising God.

Sound like a challenge? It is definitely a different model for how to live. Yet, lest we be consumed by fear and doubt, this same passage reminds us of timeless promise that God will never leave or forsake us. We are, therefore, freed to live radical and countercultural lives of faith in love, confessing boldly with everyday saints throughout the ages, “The Lord is my helper; / I will not be afraid. / What can anyone do to me?” This, dear fellow travellers, is very good news!

When take a look at the scripture from Luke this week there is an example on how we are to live and I was reminded of travelling. What is comparable to the big dinner party in our time? Are there any social situations in which we are divided by class and opportunity? The one situation with which most people will be familiar is the airport. Preparing to pass through security to the gate area, people in some countries, are divided up according to who flies more, our age, our ability, our reasons for flying. The person who bought a ticket at the last minute for a family emergency is delayed for extra security.

Thank God it hasn’t got this finicky in Australia but it still could come.  The person who flies every other day for work is honoured as a frequent flier. The grandparents who made a trek to see far-off grandchildren trudge through a maze of belted dividers, squinting at signs about shoes, jackets, and liquids. Woe betide the person who is in the wrong line. Grief comes to the one who did not know the procedures and attempts to move forward wearing shoes. As we strip down to our bottom layer, just before the suit God gave us, and dump our change into a bucket, we look with envy at the person who breezes through— their frequent-flier status warranting them a higher degree of dignity.

We rarely say, or hear anyone else say, “Why do we have to do this?” Of course, the murmurs of “security” keep such questions at bay. Yet security must either apply to everyone or no one. Otherwise it becomes a farce. Who can do what and when at the airport is the banquet table of our time. Jesus would note that you should not move yourself to a higher boarding number or faster security line. You should wait to be invited. Of course, such an invitation is a long time coming. And there is the difference between society and the kingdom of God.

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