"Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." Luke 19:8-10
There is a book that I have on the Gospel of Luke called The Hospitality of God by Brendan Byrne. The theme of this book has stuck with me for a long time. The story from Luke’s perspective is a story of hospitality, of making room at the table and welcoming the stranger. Luke’s Jesus wants to teach us what it means to be hospitable in a world where hospitality sometimes seems like a distant dream. The poet Dante gave Luke the title “scriba mansuetudinis Christi” narrator of the winning gentleness of Christ. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus moving through his life gently, sharing the love and grace of God with all those he touched. In Luke’s gospel, it amazing how many of the important events of the story take place over a meal or at a house where Jesus has been invited. It reminds us that Jesus came to earth as a visitor from God and we read this gospel story seeing who welcomes and receives Jesus as a guest. When people do welcome Jesus as a guest those people find that they have now entered the hospitality of God and have now gone from serving to being served. But not everyone welcomes Jesus. Luke wrestles with the human response to Jesus. Why do some people welcome and invite God in and why do some people grumble and question and reject the coming of salvation? As Byrne says, “the Gospel‘s essential purpose is to bring home to people a sense of the extravagance of God’s love in their regard.” We are invited to the banquet of life, are we willing to accept the invitation?
We are going to learn more about Jesus invitation to practice hospitality and learn how to become a people that welcome God in and by welcoming God welcome in God’s kingdom. Making Room: Living the Hospitality of God begins on August 8 with Luke 7: 36-51 this is the story of Jesus being invited to dinner by a Pharisee and while there a woman washes Jesus’ feet. We are going to look at the practice of hospitality of listening. Without the woman even saying a word Jesus knows what she needs. He heard what she needed and filled her need. On August 15 with Luke 8:1-3, which shows the hospitality of Serving in this passage we learn that the woman who followed Jesus provided for his need. On August 22 with Luke 13:10-17, we will explore what it means to be a Companion through the Hurt. In this story, Jesus meets a woman who has been bent over for eighteen years and yet until Jesus who was with her through the pain? We will explore what it means for the church to be a companion to a hurting world. On August 29 with Luke 9:46-48 we will explore what it means to Welcome the Other. On September 5 with Luke 14:15-24 where Jesus tells of the great banquest and how we should go out into the streets to invite the lost to the Table. The sermon series will end on Loyalty Sunday September 12 with Luke 19:1-10 where Jesus’ extravagant transforming love changes the life of Zacchaeus for Jesus came to seek out and save the lost. My hope is that this series will help us begin a conversation about making room in our church by learning to practice the hospitality.