God will not stop until the house is full.

Luke 14: 16-23

Too Much Love
Too Much Love

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.” So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” And the slave said, “Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Drawing theme: Feast

God will not stop until the house is full.

Someone is giving a dinner party and the first string of invites went out. People RSVP'ed, which is no small thing, but as it turns out, they all declined the invite. They were busy—with actually some rather legit things. New real estate property, taking a new team of oxen for a test spin, newlyweds caught up in the whirlwind of setting up a life together.

So, the host sends out a second round of invites. The host tells his servant, “Fine, go out into the streets and round of those who are poor, crippled, blind, lame.” And in a surprising twist, the servant says, “Yeah. I already did that. They are here—ready to party—and there is still room.”

So the host sends out a third round of invites. The JV list. This time, he tells his servant to go out not the roads and the lanes—go beyond W7th street—beyond Randolph. Find some people and compel them to come. So that my house may be filled.

God will not stop until the house is full.

Can you imagine what it looked like to compel people to come in? I think of kids running lemonade stands in the neighborhood. The ones who jump up and down and zealously point to their stand, waving down motorists driving by. Smiling, eager, charming, earnest. Daring each passerby to ignore the opportunity for a mediocre glass of tepid lemonade. Who can resist, though?

I'm guessing sitting at that feast table wasn't comfortable at first. The guests were not well planned group dynamics—seating like you might do for a wedding. “Oh, we'll put grandma and grandpa with the pastor cause grandma will be nice to the pastor.” This is all sorts of unlikely guests mushed in together. The poor, crippled, lame. Those with the least amount of power become central to the feast and the story. Because that's what Jesus does. Takes power and turns it upside down. Takes those on the very outside and brings them into the center.

Have you ever been to party where you walk in cold? Not knowing anyone except maybe the host? I've been to a few of those. After scanning the room and realizing I don't recognize ANYone—and seeing most people are already engaged in lively conversation—I usually saunter over to the food and drink table. Because it gives me something to do. And then look around and think, “Crap. How long do I need to stay?” Breaking into a new social group—even figuring out the small talk banter that necessary to move beyond “Heyyyy. How do you know the host?” takes so much energy.

Every single person who walks into a HW gathering (bar, worship, summer wild things) has to work through the same thing. It takes such courage to try something new. It takes so much energy to walk into the room. Let's pause there for a moment and consider the miracle of each gathering. Of this gathering, today.

And yet, God will not stop until the house is full.

Which means, a big part of our work together is to receive people well. Our ability to create spaces for people to enter is what we do. We need to be intentional about it. Which is why we need a greeter every week at worship and host for every bar event. Someone who says, “Hi. Welcome. Here's what you need to know.”

This summer, we are taking a giant leap in our worship and summer wild things life. For six weeks in a row, we will not gather for worship on Sundays. For six weeks in a row, we will not gather here at Sholom Home. Instead, we will host art making events in the park on Sundays. No agenda. Just art making for all ages.

Then on Tuesday evenings, we will gather for a meal liturgy at the Art House North. If you have been to the Meal Liturgy called Too Much Love during Holy Week, you get the idea. Although, you won't have to leave in silence like we do during Holy Week.

Worship will feel like a banquet feast that we are throwing for all those along the highways and byways.

A team will arrive 2 hours early to cook for us (yes, we will need volunteers) under the leadership of Emily Hennen, Head Cook. Then we will arrive and break bread together. On real dishes. At set tables. Served family style.

When was the last time you walked into a meal that was prepared for you? A couple weeks ago, Nate was out of town and the girls and I were invited over to a friends house for dinner. I had worked all day long on a garden project and I was physically spent. When we arrived, she said, “Come in! Sit down. Let me get you a cold drink.” And then I got to sit in her kitchen while she prepared a feast. It felt so good to be taken care of. Trans-formative, actually. I thought about it for the entire next week. It changed me. It felt and tasted like grace.

This is the gift we have this summer. We are not inviting people to hang out on Tuesday nights. We are not inviting them to a program. This is a feast. A table that belongs to Christ that will be stretched wider. It will not be comfortable. But anytime things are starting to feel too comfy cozy is when it's time to be stretched. Prepare yourself to be stretched.

God will not stop until the house is full.