Today’s two texts deal with hospitality and welcome. It’s also what’s at the root of the celebration of communion – the sacrament (which means a visible manifestation of an invisible truth) of the table. We don’t come to God to offer a sacrifice or gifts, rather God creates and sets a table for us, inviting us to come and sit with God.
The text from Jeremiah 29 is a challenge for the Israelites. They have been conquered by the ascendant Babylonian Empire – the new superpower in the 590s bce. Many Israelites were deported to far away Babylon in 597 when Babylon first conquered the nation. Jeremiah, among others, was left behind in Jerusalem. He hears that false prophets have been telling the captives in Israel what they want to hear. You’re going to go home. Don’t worry. None of this is real. It’s all going to be ok (in the sense that we’ll escape the troubles were tasting). Jeremiah say the opposite: things are going to probably get worse before they get better. But don’t be afraid. Things will be ok, but you, we, are going to know hard times and suffering. Don’t be paralyzed by doubt, and fear. Invest in the land in which you’re living. Love your neighbor (even your Babylonian one) as God loves you. Seek the good of your new home (even if they’re your enemies) because in doing so you’ll be serving the common good, of which you’re a part. You’re also to be a light to the nations, showing your faith in God through the way you live and treat others. It seems simple, yet it’s radically revolutionary. This is the only time in the Bible that there is such a message.
Luke 10 tells of Jesus sending out the community of those who were following him as a teacher. He’s just taught them about his upside-down kingdom values, to be great be humble, to be strong, be weak, to live you must die. Here he sends them out among strangers in neighboring towns, telling them to be hospitable and to look for hospitality and welcome.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
• What word, phrase or image grabs your attention?
• Both Jesus and Jeremiah invite those that walk in the Way of God to practice hospitality and live in relationship with those around them. How would that have been hard for them?; easy?
• When have you felt most “welcomed” in life? “unwelcome”?
• How do you hear the Spirit of God speaking to you – to us as the church – about hospitality and welcome….how we practice it? How we are called, appointed and sent into our world to welcome others and in so doing be a light to the nations of God’s welcome made visible in Jesus? How is such a call today a radical, revolutionary risk? How is it needed in our divided nation?
Down load the text study sheet we’ll use in our discussion at @CAPCOakland HERE.