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Invited to the Banquet
March 24, 2019, 12:00 AM

Grace and peace to you from the triune God. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

How is your Lenten journey? If you are fasting has it helped to reconnect you with God? If you added a new spiritual discipline has that helped to improve your connection with God? Are you eagerly anticipating the coming holy week as we progress through the cross to Resurrection? Is this a special season in your world and if not is there another special season for you during the year?

I do not miss the winter cold, or shoveling snow or the roads becoming a great big slip and slide. I do miss crocus and daffodils, birds returning from their annual migration, and the budding of the trees that lost their leaves the previous fall. All these little signs that come from the change of the seasons in a northern climate are for me a help in making sense of the resurrection story. Seeing every year a death of sorts when all of the plants went away and the trees lost their leaves was always followed by a period of dormancy and then comes spring Easter story that there is a death and then a pause and then the resurrection. And it is through this whole cycle that we are born anew. It is through this whole cycle that we are gifted salvation . It is through this whole cycle that we gain new life.

What then shall we do with this new life? What changes from our old life? What does it mean for us that we, the wild olive branch, have been grafted onto the cultivated tree? We are asked to embrace salvation through our faith. We are asked to use our faith to help us lead better lives. We are asked to share our faith with others and in so doing to help others come to accept Christ into their lives. What has it meant for you to accept salvation? How are you leading a better life as a person of faith? When have you shared that faith with others? Not so very difficult questions to answer and yet some of us seem to come up short. At times we want to add a reservation on the end, an “out clause.” 

One of those “out clauses” I have heard is that we don't have what we need or know the words to speak. In the parable of the wedding banquet we see the common folk invited to the wedding. They were all expected to wear the appropriate attire for the day and the Host was to give them the wedding robe. Everything needed was provided by the host. In very much the same way we are give all the things we need to have for our salvation, to lead a better life and to share the gospel with others. You have everything you need to accomplish the things that God is asking of you. Much like the guests were given a wedding robe you have been gifted that kernel of faith that starts you on the journey. You are supposed to work on how you lead your life and God gives you both the strength and the instructions to do that. You are supposed to share your faith with others and in my experience a life well lived is uncommon enough that it creates its own starting points.

We already have all that we need and so if we are struggling then it is a matter of reconnecting with, becoming aware of the good nutrition we are receiving, becoming receptive to the lead from and open to the gifts of God. Having troubling with your faith then prayer and meditation helps you hear the Holy Spirit, which is already there. So the Holy Spirit is already present thus it is simply allowing ourselves to connect and that takes prayer and meditation. Having trouble sharing your faith? Does your day to day journey reflect an inward journey that is spent in the things of God? Maybe it is time to spend energy in reading the bible so that you have the ways of God more squarely in front of you, a reminder if you will of the ways of God.  Don't believe you are truly saved because God loves you and wants a relationship, no more, no less, then you are in the right spot and maybe more time in church activities will help you to hear that word of salvation, the message that you are saved by your faith and nothing more is necessary. We already have the resources we need to accomplish the things of faith if we will but avail ourselves of them.

And yet at some level this is the way of the world. There is a reason we have cartoons and commentaries in which the thing a person needs to survive or thrive is immediately next to them and they fail to see the gift, which is so very close to them. We have all heard stories of the blindness of people who do not see the provision they have and only complain about what they don't. We have all heard the stories of those who move forward refusing help of any kind and suffering for it, when help was not far from them and would have gladly chipped in. All to often this last one is wrapped up in pride and/or stubborn belief that we need no help and is prefaced with “I didn't want to be a burden.” Which reminds me of a quote I saw yesterday that spoke about nature. “Nothing in the Nature lives for itself. Rivers don't drink their own water. Trees don't eat their own fruit. Sun doesn't give heat for itself. Flowers don't spread fragrance for themselves.” and thus the reminder that we are to give by nature. Interestingly, sometimes in Lutheran and I suspect in other culturally European spaces, we are good at giving but not receiving. We talk about the difficulty of utilizing the resources provided by God because we want to figure out how we can do it of our own and the whole point is that we can not of our own power. We want to give gifts to others but we never become the willing recipient of the gifts others want to give us. Interestingly, sometimes we need to learn to receive the gifts of others and is this not the position we are in with God. We need to humble ourselves enough to understand that we can not do it of our own power and thus must ask for help, which will come from God.

We are given all the gifts we need to lead a faithful live. You have been given the faith you need. You have been given the tools you need. You have been given the opportunity to share. All you need to do is receive what has already been given. We have the church, the bible and the Holy Spirit, gifts that help us to accomplish that which is expected of us. So, how is your Lenten journey progressing.  Amen