By the Rev. BOB WALLACE
Special to the Sun-Gazette
The invitation read: Come As You Are. You are to be a special guest at a festive feast. Please grace us with your presence. A time was listed as well as when and where the invitee would be picked up for the festive evening.
As the two young prostitutes read this, the only engraved invitation they had ever seen let alone received, they looked bewildered. Next, a young drug addict down a dark alley was handed his copy of the invitation. He wondered what the catch was, what was the angle?
A homeless family, whose husband and father had just that morning cried out to God in anger, upon reading their invitation got down on their knees and wept. At least they had something for which to now hope. The lonely man who spent much of every day sitting on a park bench didn't think anyone even knew he existed. The struggling widow who went to the grocery store every day just to see another human being jumped up and down for joy.
All these and more found themselves that evening at a very rich looking home in a part of town they never entered. Their host, who was dressed immaculately, graciously welcomed each one as is he was welcoming a queen or king. When the last guest arrived, he asked them all to gather around a beautiful table ladened with food. "I am hosting this feast," he then said, "but I am not the real host. You are guests here tonight at the invitation of the Master Himself, Jesus, Christ. I know that may sound strange to you. But let me explain. I have spent all my life storing up massive treasures here on earth. And yet with all of that I found I was not content. Then I met Jesus and found a love and joy I had never known. And Jesus asked me to invite you here this evening. Following our feast, I want to meet with each one of you and see how I might be able to help you on your journey."
With that the feasting began and many lives began to change. Oh, some couldn't get their heart to accept that there wasn't some sort of catch. The young drug addict left to find a hit, but he's still thinking about that evening and maybe someday will come to the Master. Others found a new beginning in the love of Christ shown to them that night. The young couple were put up in a small apartment and given some leads for jobs. The lonely man and lonely woman were guided into some wonderful volunteer programs that allowed them to be both productive and filled anew with the love of Christ. The two young ladies of the night were given opportunities to go to school and develop their talents and skills. They were rediscovering that they were precious children of God.
All because someone was open to the message of the Master and willing to let the Master lead him to throw a party in Christ's honor. In the scripture passage referenced above, Jesus said, "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind; and you will be blessed because they are not able to pay you back."
May we feast upon the Gift that unites us, Jesus Christ, and may we, in His Name, share that Gift with others. Oh, what a better world it will be.
- Wallace is a retired United Methodist pastor.