Invitation

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Introduction:

Imagine for a moment a young man walking his grandfather’s farmstead. As his worn, brown leather boots press across the stalks of wheat, he looks up into the setting sun. On the west ridge stands the first barn on the farm, erected by hand in the 1850’s.

As he approaches, the outline of the barn begins to disappear and he slowly begins to see the weather-worn wood with faded colors of the red paint that used to exist. The barn has not been used for 50 years and surprisingly is still standing strong against the seasonal winds.

His grandfather was proud of the land and buildings he maintained. This barn housed the horses used to drive the livestock and accomplish the many chores. As he approaches the barn doors, his nose picks up a familiar scent that quickly whisks him back to a time that seemed more simple, more real. His hand reaches for the door handle and he slowly opens large aging doors. Old hay dots the dirt floor as setting sunlight breaks through the cracks in the wood walls.

The young man looks around, taking in the last moments in this barn and then reaches for his tool belt. He takes out his hammer and slowly begins to break down one section of the barn wall.

He gently loads each board, thinking about all of the things these boards have experienced. After a trek back to the farmhouse, he unloads the boards in his shop and begins the process of sorting and finding the best boards.

He takes out his planer and sanding tools and begins to shape the boards until they are smooth and level and the right size. He takes his glue and wood clamps and carefully attaches the boards together. After a final sanding, he takes out the natural stain and sealer and applies it generously across the wood planks.

Now one large piece of wood – he turns it over carefully and attaches legs and supports. Now too heavy for himself to lift, he calls into the farmhouse for his little boy to come give him a hand. Together they slowly turn it over and carry it into the dining room.

These old, tattered boards that were all but forgotten have become their new table for meals, games, and countless hours of conversation with family and friends.

There is something special that happens around a table.

Today we begin a new series in the month of November and we will be exploring the call of Christ to radical hospitality.

Movement 1:

All four Gospels in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all share the story of the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples around a table, made possible by the hospitality of a stranger. If you have your bibles you can turn to Luke 22:7-39.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read of what is called The Last Supper. We hear words from this passage each time we share in communion together and it has been depicted in numerous works of art, the most famous being by Leonardo da Vinci (picture). It has also been the theme of many conspiracy theories, movies, and novels.

Luke 22 is in the midst of Jesus’ final moments on earth as he has been teaching and performing many miracles but knows that he soon will be arrested.

Luke 22:7-39 (NLT)
7 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare it?” they asked him.
10 He replied, “As soon as you enter Jerusalem, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. At the house he enters, 11 say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 12 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 13 They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
14 When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.[a]15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. 16 For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
17 Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among
yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”
19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.[b]
21 “But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. 22 For it has been determined that the Son of Man[c] must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” 23 The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.
24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
28 “You have stayed with me in my time of trial. 29 And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right 30 to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom.

Movement 2:

One of the last things that Jesus did with his disciples before his death was to eat the Passover meal with them. This was particularly appropriate since in a few hours he was to give himself as the paschal lamb to atone for all humanity’s sin.

The first day of the feast of unleavened bread is call Passover and when the Passover lamb was slain. This was followed by 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

At the beginning of our passage Jesus makes it known that he wants to eat with His disciples – he invites them to dine with Him for the Passover meal.

Once they are gathered he says: “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.”

The Son of God is eager to dine with his closest earthly companions and friends. He invites them to join him for this special meal.

And this is where our sermon series, The Table, begins today. It begins with an invitation that Jesus extended to his disciples and extends to us.

Jesus is eager to share with us and invites us into 5 things today.

Invitation to rest.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Invitation to a relationship with God through the saving grace of Jesus.

Personal salvation is not an occasional rendezvous with Deity; it is an actual dwelling with God.

Mark 1:14-15 (NLT) – 14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News.[a] 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Acts 2:38 (NLT) – 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) – 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[b] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 3:21-26 (NLT) – 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[a] and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Invitation to come and take up our cross.

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must
give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.

Invitation to discipleship.

Christianity is not just an avocation; it is a lifelong, eternity-long vocation.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mark 1:17). We are saved to serve; we are redeemed to reproduce spiritually; we are fished out of the miry clay so that we in turn may become fishers of men.

Invitation to Go 15

Mark 16:15 (NLT) – And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.

Matthew 28:19 – Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Conclusion:

Jesus invites us and in following his example we are called to extend an invitation to others.

This invitation is hospitality.

Hospitality, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way.

“In our world full of strangers, estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbors, friends and family, from their deepest self and their God, we witness a painful search for a hospitable place where life can be lived without fear and where community can be found.”

Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own. (Henri Nouwen)

And today, we are invited to the table of the Lord, to share in the hospitality of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Response: Communion

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that suffering and death are involved in our redemption and in the redemption of the world. This remembrance meal focuses our attention on the amazing love of God to pay such a price for our lives and reminds us of the freedom that we can have in Christ.

Words of Institution:

We are reminded that in the night that our Lord gave himself up for us, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to His disciples, and said, “Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of these mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice in union with Christ’s offering for us.

Let’s pray together.

Prayer of Consecration (Epiclesis):

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathering here, and on these gifts of the bread and cup. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ that we may be for the world the body of Christ redeemed by the blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world. All honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and forever. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Body of Christ

The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto ever- lasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.

Blood of Christ

The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto ever- lasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

The Table: Practicing Radical Hospitality

Communication

The Table: Practicing Radical Hospitality

Preparation

The Table: Practicing Radical Hospitality

Invitation