Don’t Forget: Enlarge Your Dining Room

We’ll host a great class shortly. How to Have a New Kid in Five Days! Wouldn’t that be great, parents?! I wish I’d written that title. ‘And there were sequels for a new boss, spouse, friend, brother, sister, bank account & more… in 5 days! Quick work for a big job!

That should sound familiar. See, we’ve been discovering how to build a new house, a spiritual house, a better spiritual house for an entirely better life…and we’re now at the fifth and last week of that work. Whew! That’s alotta messages, but then, it’s a pretty big job (in just 5 Wks). So far, here’s what we’ve learned. A) A good name is a good place to start. Start with the best: Jesus. Make his name yours. Make him glad to make yourshis. B) A good foundation’s essential. Build your house on worship and praise. C) Remember good windows and doors: to look out and see, get out and serve. D) Pour your best spiritual resources into the nursery and the kitchen.

Make believers of the young and form disciples who will grow and bear witness! Now for the capper. (E) Don’t forget to enlarge your dining room! Let radical hospitality and constant encouragement flow from your table, now and always.

This is Biblical. Memorable. Powerful. Go to Psalm 23. (P. 567.) You know it. Lift it up with me.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he maketh me lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters; he restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” I’d guess the strongest image for most: the valley of the shadow. But today, join me at the table prepared! On a Sunday when the world comes to dine with Christ, let’s focus here. Imagine it as Jesus does. The Kingdom like a banquet! Where did Jesus get that idea? Psalm 23, for starters. His own last hours, at table. Why make that choice? His most repeated setting for intimate/important teaching? Yep, the table again. Jesus is a Dining Room Deliverer proclaiming the radical hospitality of Heaven.

From David to Jesus, Scripture reveals the hospitality of heaven, the wonder of welcome. It’s ours to receive. And it’s ours to give. So check the size of the dining room in your spiritual house and enlarge it as necessary to fit the need. Look, David sings of the table God’s gotten ready, just for him. All the best stuff. The cups, the plates, the flatware. Centerpiece, cloth napkins in rings! And the menu, O the menu… ready to rush right out of the kitchen… all for David! Well, not quite. God has, it seems, invited: his enemies. For two reasons, I think. So David gets justice, his due. And to put his enemies in their place. But there’s more. Now David will have to play host to them, welcome them, accommodate and forgive them. He’ll have to host those he’d not wanna give houseroom: the different, not-believing-as-he-believed, ornery, obstreperous and just plain cuss-ed. And now, in the hour of his glory, David’s gonna have to deal with them, as surely as they with him. And all under the fellowship of God. That’s the God that Jesus knows and the table that he sets, for himself and for us.

In Jesus’ name and David’s memory, how big’s your table? For whom is God asking you to make a bigger, grander, more gracious dining room? Who is it from whom you’re so alienated you might be heard to say, “I wouldn’t be caught dead eating with him/her?” Isn’t that exactly the image of David’s Psalm, and exactly what God is preparing for us and our table? And inviting us to do today. Who are the nations, who are the peoples, what are the opinions aligned against us (as believers, human beings, daughters & sons of God)… that on a World Communion Sunday we might be called to set a place at the table of Christ? What person or people live/s as a thorn in your side, for whom Christ endured the crown of thorns on his head? And for whom are you the same? And could it be that on his last night with his own: quarrelers for honor and privilege, doubters, a betrayer and a passel of sleepy-eyed friends… when he said to this bunch, “I have earnestly desired to eat this meal with you,” he included us, too? And the folks we dis, or just distain? He would have us (as 1ce he said) go out into the highways and hedges and invite, even compel them to come to the table with us?

O, Jesus, how will we ever enlarge our dining room, our spiritual house in a way that honors you? Won’t you show us the way? He

will. And he does. He’s on his way to Jerusalem. In Jericho, on the uphill climb. IRS-man Zacchaeus, the wee little weasel, he’s up a tree. In his faith. In his standing with his neighbors. (They hate him.) And literally… waiting to see Jesus. He just knows it’s time to find his place. Well, Jesus comes, looking up. (That’s where enlarging our welcome always begins, looking up!) He sees the bigness of God’s heart for Zacchaeus more than Zach’s smallness t’ward God and God’s own.  He invites Zach down. ‘Expands Zach’s table by agreeing to dine with him at his house. (A place thought unclean.) The consequence is threefold. Folks who’d ignore or reject Zach now come to his table. Zach gets to be a welcomer. He repents. ‘Really changes his ways. And everybody gets a lesson about building bigger rooms and putting more and more leaves in the welcome table. Here’s the lesson. “The Son of man/[Savior] comes to seek and to save the lost.” How will we ever enlarge our dining room? ‘Like Jesus. Looking up. (‘To see as God sees.) Like Jesus, letting the be-littled become larger among us. Sitting together. And letting Jesus-the-guest become Jesus-our-host.

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Let us be specific today. ‘Not just pretty in our words. A recent survey shows 15% of Md.ers not just unchurched, but utterly w/o faith. Some are our neighbors. This (communion) table asks us, “How are you inviting them?” 20% of our community youth have no one to go home to after school and gang-presence is a publicly reported problem in our own nearest high school. Outside our fellowship hall door, a dirty pillow, a sorry blanket and old cigarette butts. Somebody’s asking’ us for a place. (Yes, we have tried, but without good options for real change.) ‘Not easy. Any of it. But I just know we have work to do, hospitality to give. Especially to those we don’t notice, or refuse to see.

Wanna better life? Build a better spiritual house.

And when you do, don’t forget to enlarge the dining room!

‘No better time to be reminded than on this day

when the world is so explicitly invited to Christ’s Table.

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