Hello Friends, Romans, and Countrymen! Lend me your ears! Or maybe just your eyes for a few moments-- :O)! Tomorrow night is our big event with Courtney Hale from Asbury Theological Seminary. We will have a time of worship that really focuses on the whole concept of vocation. Is God calling you to seminary? What does that mean? What does it mean if He isn’t? Can He still have a valid call upon your life even if seminary and ordained ministry aren’t in your future? Come and find out!
This weekend we will travel to
Now For Sami’s Ramblings About Jesus:
Last night my family had some friends over for dinner, and it was such a joy for me. I got to do one of my favorite things ever: feed people. I absolutely love it. Not because I’m a great cook. Not because I’m even much of a hostess. I guess it is because I find such a connection between feeding the body and feeding the soul, and when I am afforded the opportunity to feed a body it becomes for me a gift to that person’s soul as well. For me it is a tangible expression of real love.
I am reminded of another meal that is a tangible expression of Real Love; it is holy communion, celebrated by followers of Christ all over the world. It is that sacrament that is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, namely that in simple gifts of bread and cup we find the real presence of Jesus Christ, His body broken for us and His blood poured out. That simple meal makes tangibly real the gift of Himself that He gave on the cross, that we experience anew each time we partake and re-member it into our very own bodies. It is an example of extreme hospitality. We are so welcome in Christ’s presence that He gives us Himself again and again, as often as we will come to Him.
And so it was with great surprise that I read these words from scripture: “Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home” (Luke 10:38). I have read these words dozens of times before, but I had not experienced them so deeply before. Martha welcomed Jesus, not just to town, not just in conversation, not just to say hi as He was passing through, but she welcomed Him into the most personal space of her entire world, her home. To welcome someone into one’s home is such a personal gesture. It entails a transparency and generosity that supersedes the routine “Hi, how ya doin, but please don’t really answer because I’m not really asking.” And so I am caught by the juxtaposition of Lent, a season of repentance and spiritual reflection, with an invitation of hospitality that speaks of abundance and spiritual refreshment. The two extremes seem to be an impossible match. Yet the paradox speaks volumes.
In Holy Communion we are greeted with utmost welcome. It is the sign of the extreme hospitality offered by the cross: This bread is His body broken for us; this cup is His blood poured out. It is there at the cross that a common criminal asks for, and is granted, a place in paradise. It is as if the Holy Son of God has opened up His arms to let the whole world in to His heart. And look what it costs Him. It costs Him His life. It is the proof we need that nothing we can do can make Him love us less. We cannot cause Him such hurt that He will turn away. We cannot sin so badly that He will not forgive us. We cannot fail or disappoint or dismay or disregard in such a way that we are excluded from the gift of Himself that He gave. Get this: On that “Old Rugged Cross” we trashed Him with our worst, and in response He gave us His best. And so at the heavenly banquet we, whose sins had broken Him, are served His brokenness and through it are made whole. We are nourished, we are cleansed, we are transformed. We are set free.
My sins have no hold on me. Wow!
And so we have to ask ourselves, what is our response to His lavish response to us? Good news teller Luke continues with the story: “She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying” (Luke 10:39). I think Jesus was absolutely tickled to be welcomed into Martha’s home, but I believe that what he was searching for more than a hot meal was a warm heart. Something in the warmth with which Mary listened to Him stirred Him deeply. And even when her listening interfered with a “proper” welcome, the welcome she gave was exactly what He was looking for. It is exactly what He is still looking for. How willing are we to draw near? How willing are we to accept the welcome He gives us? That very welcome that we thought we were first giving Him, but He then turns around and offers back? We think we welcome Jesus into our hearts, but how willing are we to be welcomed into His? I believe that the response He is looking for from us this Lenten season is not so much that we do “Jesus” things, but that we enter Jesus’ heart and allow it to shape us. We are no judge of what that shape will take or look like. But He is. And the whole point of Lent is relinquishing ourselves so that He can be lifted up within us. He simply wants us to sit at His feet and listen to what He says. It can’t get easier than that. Or harder. But the results are so worth it. So with you I am always
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