RSVP

Have you ever thrown a party and nobody came? Imagine the frustration of that. You send the invitations, bake the cake, buy the decorations, and put together the little party favors for every guest. The day of the party you clean the house, set the table, sweep the front steps, change your clothes, and….nada. Nobody comes. Nobody calls. Nobody even has the manners to at least try to come up with a reason not to attend.

This is the story Jesus told when asked about the Kingdom of God. His listeners were the chief priests and the leaders of the temple. They had questioned Jesus’ authority to speak as the Son of God. They had allowed money lenders to defile the steps of the temple on the holy days. They had been listening to Jesus for three years, but they weren’t picking up what he was laying down.

Now they were out to get him.

Matthew 22 (The Message)

22 1-3 Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn’t come!

“He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, ‘Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!’

5-7 “They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.

Jesus throws down the authority gauntlet. He warns the Jewish leadership that their continued refusal to receive the Son of God was not going to end well. They may succeed in ensnaring Jesus for a time, but the ultimate victory was going to be his at the resurrection. God would destroy not only their hierarchy but their precious temple and the city it stood in.

He warns them that God wasn’t playing.

8-10 “Then he told his servants, ‘We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren’t up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.’ The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.

And so the doors of the kingdom were flung wide open to the gentiles, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the poor, the blind, the marginal….suddenly the invitation was sent out to everyone. The banquet was on and everybody had a seat. The Bread of Life welcomed everyone to come and feast at HIS table.

You are invited as well. Maybe this is your moment to accept Christ into your heart. Jesus invites you to come inside and put your feet under his table. The food has been laid out on beautiful platters and the glasses are filled with Living Water. The meal has been bought for you with the precious blood of the lamb. In Christ, you will never hunger or thirst again. You can come and eat and stay as long as you like…even for the rest of your life. Will you come and partake?

RSVP.

Come and You Will Never Thirst Again by Kathy Schumacher

Timing is God’s Business

Think for a moment of all the times you have wished for something, and wanted something to happen that didn’t go the way you planned. Maybe you even prayed about it and your prayers were met with silence. I try to remind myself that God ALWAYS answers our prayers, but sometimes we don’t like the answer. For the most part, his response is one of three things: yes, no, or wait. Of course “wait” might be the hardest one to hear, as it leaves you in some kind of limbo, wondering if he heard you at all.

He did.

But his measure of time and his sense of timing are far higher than ours, just as his thoughts and his ways are higher. When things happen in God’s timing, it is always for our good. But we are an impatient people who want the world and we WANT IT NOW. (Cue Veruca Salt…)

Can you think of a time when you had to wait on God’s timing? Waiting is HARD.

In our Ascension passage today, we find the disciples watching Jesus return to his father after a 40-day period of their being with him after the resurrection. Their hearts are troubled. They don’t want him to leave, but they know that he will come back someday. He promises that if they remain in Jerusalem, they will receive a baptism even better than the one John performed:

Acts 1 (The Message)

1-5 Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God.

As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”

Waiting is an important part of this story. Things were not happening quickly, or according to their wishes, but rather at a pace that God had set. Part of what needed to happen during the waiting was for them to readjust their expectations of what Jesus’ return would actually bring:

When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”

They were still looking to Jesus to overthrow the existing power structure and establish his kingdom. Even with ALL they knew about their Messiah, they still didn’t quite get the fact that the kingdom he brought was an internal one. It was not time for Jesus to rule the kingdom of Israel just yet:

7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”

9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”

As we anticipate the second coming of Christ, let us be about our Father’s work and spread the gospel to Jerusalem (your local community), Judea (your state and country), and Samaria (international destinations). There is much to do while we wait…but as we wait, let us remember that timing is the Father’s business. In his time, he makes all things beautiful.

Waiting for Sunrise