The Banquet (Luke 14:16-24)
Many point out that this parable of the banquet demonstrates God’s extravagant love that reaches out beyond our imaginings. And that is a powerful point to ponder . . .
But right now what really gets my attention in this parable is that everyone who was originally invited to this banquet was just too busy — and had other things to do.
Does this sound familiar to you? In this way-too-busy world in which we live, isn’t that often a common feeling when there’s yet another invitation? Our schedules are bloated. And each new technological gadget, instead of making life more simple and efficient, seems to pile more stuff and expectations onto our already overcomplicated lives. If we take time to be present, we may discover a deep hunger within. But we seldom feel we have “the luxury” to do what seems truly important, and certainly no time to “waste” on wondering what is most important from God’s perspective. Do you take enough time to wonder about God’s invitations? Or are you usually too busy?
The question I think we all need to ask here is: What really brings us to our center in God and nourishes our soul . . . what enables us to be deeply present to God’s Presence, and through that, be empowered actively to care for others’ souls?
When God invites us into connection and holy conversation with another and we’re too busy to show up and be truly present, we’re missing an amazing banquet! When we are preoccupied and miss the opportunity to connect deeply and share in a feast for the soul, we are like the declining guests in this parable — we don’t even know what we’re missing! (Looking back to the blog from last week, we’re missing not only a soulful feast, but we are oblivious to a deeper dimension of time in our midst and in the present moment . . . what we often refer to as Kairos.)
God seems to be offering a banquet that opens us to a whole new way of being. But like the woman at the well who Jesus offers “living water,” we must be open with special qualities . . . of deep humility and gratitude (John 4:4-26). When we are stuck in our ego-centered false self, our lives cannot draw from a deep well, but merely skim the surface. When, with humility and gratitude, we bring our true selves — who we honestly are at the center of our souls — God serves us a feast at the table of amazing grace, and our deepest, truest selves are nurtured, in the midst of whatever is going on in our lives.
In her book, “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation,” Spiritual Director and Retreat Leader Ruth Haley Barton urges us toward deep, fundamental change in our life with God through spiritual disciplines that “open us to God’s transforming love and the changes that only God can bring about in our lives.” Barton recounts the time she and her bicycle were run over by a minivan (miraculously, she was not seriously hurt) and as she recuperated, she pondered whether this accident was a time to reconsider her need for Sabbath: “I did not want to acknowledge the possibility that it was that hard for God to get my attention.”
But speaking from my own experience, and as difficult as it was, my struggle with cancer became a gift as it forced me to stop, broke me open, and taught me the deep power of humility and gratitude and God’s grace. Now, every week when we gather for Communion in the Chapel, and I break the bread and say, “We who are broken are made whole as we share in the Body of Christ and become the Body of Christ,” our hearts are opened with humility and gratitude, and we share in a banquet in Kairos time.
If your life is too full, if you’ve just been too busy to think about the Sacred Rhythms of your own life, if God may be having a hard time getting your attention, the good news is God’s invitation is always there. By exploring life in a way that leaves room for regular, daily spiritual disciplines, we can make ourselves more open to truly hear God’s invitation to an amazing banquet at the table of grace, and be richly fed at the very center of our soul.
I’d love to talk with you more about finding the Sacred Rhythms in your own life and how to begin to create the day-to-day spiritual disciplines that will open you to follow your passion and calling even as you welcome whatever is, here and now, in this moment. Remember that God works for good through all things “if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.” There is a spiritual direction and mindfulness movement that is pointing us away from our busyness and preoccupation; if you’re ready to begin and explore this journey, please contact me for more information about listening to God’s invitations and spiritual directions to a banquet that connects and feeds our souls, and helps us “accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
Grace and peace on the journey,