based on Jeremiah 2:4-13, and Luke 14:1, 7-14
When you give a meal, says Jesus, to his host and a group of increasingly uncomfortable fellow guests, don’t invite your friends or family who can reciprocate with a fine meal. Invite the lost and the least, those whom no one is ever going to make a fuss over; show them now that they are welcome and honoured guests, simply for being alive in the world.
Does that sound easy or difficult? I’m not very good at even inviting my friends and family! I get as far as thinking – I’ll have to clean up the house and clean off the kitchen table, and that feels overwhelming some days.
However I believe there is always a glimpse of heaven in the act of hospitality, and I had the good fortune of being led by example at my parents’ kitchen table. Jim and Miriam and I got to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 60th anniversary this past April in Fort Nelson, and my son Aaron got to chat with them from Guelph Ontario, via Facetime. 10 years ago, when they celebrated their 50th anniversary, neither of my children could be there for the event, but they both sent letters, from opposite ends of the country. They didn’t consult each other on what to write, but both wrote of the amazing hospitality of Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen table. You never knew who would be there, family, neighbours, summer students, someone stranded in town; it was always a surprise, and everyone was welcomed and included without reserve. Being that hospitable is something I aspire to, but I’m certainly not there yet.
Jeremiah tells us that God is the hospitable one. But God can’t feed us if we won’t stop for a meal. What do we nourish ourselves with? Go to any grocery store and you’ll find rows of pop cans and energy drinks, and water in plastic bottles. It makes me think of Jeremiah speaking of God as the water of life, and the people choosing to forgo that life-giving water in favour of the stagnant and seeping water found in cracked cisterns. It might not be that good, but it’s quick and easy.
I think I understand the lure of quick and easy though. The older I get the quicker the time seems to go and I feel like I’m doing most things `on the run’. I even do prayer on the run – driving down the highway – eyes open of course – I think praying and driving is still allowed though texting and driving is not. I know, by experience the lure of zapping something in the microwave oven instead of cooking it in the crock pot, or chopping, mixing, baking or simmering food.
I’ve reading an interesting book right now called “Integral Christianity: the Spirit’s Call to Evolve” by Paul Smith. He talks about his prayer life – and the deepening experiences of connecting with the Divine on a daily basis, and I’m adding up the hours and I’m wondering how he finds this time, or makes this time for deep prayer, and what does he have to let go of to do it?
On the other hand, Meister Eckhart says, If the only prayer you ever said in your entire life was `Thank You’ it would be enough.
God can’t feed us if we won’t stop for a meal. That might not mean Paul Smith’s daily deepening prayer, it might mean looking up and around and seeing the people we connect with every day and recognizing that they are precious. It may mean looking out at the lake and marveling at the shadows and the sun diamonds dancing on the waves. It may mean sitting here this morning, and listening to familiar hymns played on the harp, leaving the words behind, or letting them sink deeper into our being without using our voices to project them. This is food for the soul. This sitting here, now, quieting our minds, opening ourselves to the hospitality of the Holy. May this be soul food for you today.
p.s. We had fewer words and more listening this Sunday as our guest Sharon Hartwick played the harp for us. Jim, Wilma, Steve and I filled in on the hymns.