Pastor Linda Settles
You're Invited: Part 2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
At our family dinners, occasionally someone would bring a date. And some of them were a little dicey! Smelled of liquor, loud talking, colorful language or scantily clad. I can remember on several occasions thinking that this is going to be interesting! And it usually was because everyone was trying to be on their best behavior, which is not easy for some of us. There might’ve been a few looks, even some snickers, but when it came time to eat, they were given a place at the table with everyone else. And some of them ended up marrying into the family!
You see, some of those who seem to be rough around the edges, just might need you to be that sandpaper that gently smooths them out. Some have not known the love of a family. And it’s the same way in church. Nobody was born saved! We all came in just as we were. We brought all of our hang-ups, doubts, and habits with us. And the kind of welcome we received from others determined whether we came back or not. But Jesus still extended the invitation.
It's hard coming into new environments. You don’t know what to expect. In Luke 14, Jesus had been invited to a dinner. But when He observed that certain guests were favored over others, and that only a certain group of people had been invited, He began to share a story about a man who threw a dinner party and none of the invited guests came. They all gave excuses. And the owner was pretty mad…
Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’
When was the last time you invited a stranger to church? What about a waiter or a cashier or the snack person at Costco or Sam’s Club? Now, ask yourself, why not? And I know it’s an awkward thing to do at times, how do you even strike up that conversation, right? But we now have invite cards for you to give to someone! It’s as simple as “hey, I want to give you an invitation. Just come check it out when you can.” That’s all.
Or leave a card for your waiter/waitress with the tip. You don’t even have to say a word! In fact, it would be cool to drop them wherever you go – leave one in the drive-up bank cannister, when you pay for your groceries, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, or wherever you go. Slip one to your broker or your child’s teacher. It’s so easy! And it’s so necessary. We’re not inviting them to a torture chamber, but to a place of love and peace. And what the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some but for everyone! (Thanks, Dionne Warwick)
To tell the truth, we are all unworthy to gather the crumbs under Christ’s table, so don’t judge who you will and won’t invite. None of us are worthy of the invitation to salvation…
…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
And yet, Jesus is still inviting. All of us. Well, the servant in the story did what the owner asked him to do, and there was still room at the banquet. So, the owner said,
Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in,
so that my house may be filled.
Some folks don’t like a full church, but God sure does. Not for the sake of having people in the pews, but so that the gospel is preached to the poor in spirit, release is proclaimed to those held captive by negative thoughts, those who were blind can receive sight, and those who are oppressed receive freedom in Christ. And together we’ll proclaim God’s favor! (Paraphrase of Luke 4:18) The reason we invite folks to church is to bless them, not to hurt them.
So, as a popular TV commercial invites us to do, “Get out there!” Go to your homes, your jobs, your bridge club, bowling buddies, golf pals and invite them to the hope that has kept you going. But don’t stop there, go to the store, the airport, the cruise, and invite them to try Jesus. This invitation goes beyond any building. We’re inviting them to meet the One who will never let them down, the One who loves them passionately. Do you see the difference? We’re not just inviting them to a building but to a relationship with the lover of our souls.
Some of them may never enter our sanctuary, but they won’t forget the care you showed them. They won’t forget that someone was thinking about them. So don’t be intimidated, don’t hesitate, just tell them about the love that changed your life. Invite them to get to know Jesus. And then don’t be surprised at who comes to dinner!
Join us for worship this Sunday for the sermon series: You’re Invited! This week we’ll preach on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. We hope to see you in-house at 10:00am (masks optional), or you can also join us online. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Breakthrough Prayer Amazing things are happening just because we are praying! And now, when the timer goes off at 11:24 a.m., I don’t have to pull out my card for the Scriptures, they’re part of me! Isn’t that amazing? I hope it’s the same for you. I hope that you are still praying, whether it’s at 11:24 or any time during the day. Just pray. And watch things happen!
The Word on Wednesday (WOW) got off to a good start. Dinner was great (and plentiful), the fellowship was great, as were the class leaders. Dinner is optional, but if you are coming for dinner, be sure to sign up on the website or let the church office know that you are coming (314-469-6740) so that we are good stewards of the food. Then bring your family and let’s have Food – Fun – Fellowship, WOW! Dinner 6pm, classes 6:30-7:30pm.
State of the Church will occur on Sunday, Sept. 25, after worship. Stay and hear highlights from your Pastor and Leadership Board, and we will address any questions or concerns from the congregation.
Take me out to the Ballgame! UM night at the Ballpark is on Saturday, September 17. We have about fifty people going between Green Trails and Union Memorial! Look for us – we’ll be the ones in Big Mac Land! Fun fact: Did you know that this celebration was started by the late Rev. Harry Smith, a dedicated UM pastor, and the husband of our very own Karel Smith? What a difference one person can make!
Friends, as you settle into Fall and get back to the regular routines of life, I extend an invitation to you to make time for regular Bible reading, prayer, and worship. It’s been my experience that the more time I give to God first, the more time I have in the day. It’s a fishes and loaves thing. Try it!