This week in worship I am preaching on Luke 14:1-24, a story about the feast of the Lord or the great banquet. The invitations to this banquet have been sent and we are waiting to see who will be at the feast.
In movie Chocolat, the outcasts are being faced with being run out of town and losing their place. Food plays a central role in this movie. A chocolaterie opens during lent in a catholic town. This shop has become a place of healing for the town where people come with their problems and leave feeling a little bit better. Yet the count, feels threatened by this new locus of healing. So he decides to run the riffraff out of town. He has told everyone without explicitly saying so to stopping coming to the shop. So they try to run this healer out of town. She is in crisis because her daughter wants a normal life. But they will always be the outsiders, the stranger, the aliens in this town. And now they are actively be encouraged to leave. What is she to do? She is crying to one of her closest friend a grouchy old lady who she rents the shop from. This gruff woman says throw me a party. She replies no one will come if they know I am throwing the party. The old woman says, “Who has to know.” So they send invitations to the people she has helped to come to this party.
Jesus in this passage says it is better when issuing invitations, not to invite your friends and relations; for you will just receive a similar invitation in return; instead invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. They may appear to have nothing to offer. Being welcoming to them is to embody the welcome of God. Jesus tells a story. The invitations have been sent but no one can come. They are two concerned with wealth and the new circumstances of life. They brush off the invitation. So the man throwing the party sends his servant out into the street to invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. Even when all of these are at the party there is still room for more. So the servant goes back out and compels those left to come. This parable conveys the story of Jesus mission. The kingdom of God in not about power but about gifting and honoring others. Jesus is inviting us to come to the celebration, to enter the kingdom. But most of us are help back from responding. Those with the least are most open to the invitation because they have an emptiness that God can help them fill.
When the party takes place in Chocolat, look at who is at the table. There is a couple who has drifted apart and was just living in the same house, but who now through the healing of this outcast are happy again. There is the grandmother with diabetes who has been estranged from her daughter who only wanted to help her but they couldn’t speak to each other. This kept the grandmother away from the grand son and this outcast brought them back together. At this table is a boat person, despised by the entire community because they are immoral, cheaters, liars, and thieves. At this table is a widow whose husband died forty years ago and through the outcast found new companionship. At this table is the outcast, the wanderer who goes from place to place and her child, a child without a father. Here at this party all are welcome. Who will you invite to your party?