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Guest, Host, Friend

By Pastor Rob

Guest, Host, Friend

Jesus was always a guest.

He was a guest at Peter’s house when he helped his mother-in-law.

He was Levi the tax collector’s guest, which really irritated people.

He was the guest of Simon the Pharisee, when a woman bathed his feet with tears of gratitude.

He was a guest at Mary and Martha’s, who listened to him and served him.

Even the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem was a loaner.

After he turned over temple tables, he stayed at a friend’s house in Bethany.

And the night he took his final meal before death, his small group of friends was welcomed into an upper room, in the home of someone they probably didn’t know.

Jesus was always a guest.

But on that night of the last supper, he reminded everyone that he was also the host. He was one who invited. He was one who welcomed. He made sure everyone who came was fed and cared for.

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us he gave them all bread and wine, as his body, his life. John tells us he washed their feet. Tenderness, generosity, service.

This is the kind of meal with friends we need right now.

Before the world was shut down by the coronavirus, many of us had a terribly dysfunctional relationship to hospitality. On the one hand, it’s become easy to neglect it altogether – to stay in, microwave dinner and binge-watch bad t.v. We’ve been insulated from the vulnerability that community requires, and for a while now, we’ve experienced more and more isolation.

But on the other hand, those who wish gather, to invite friends over, to activate fellowship, have felt a great pressure to impress, to be flawless and extraordinary hosts, to execute community with extravagance. Because we all want to be judged favorably, and you need to show the world on Instagram how amazing your home and your people are.

It was beginning to feel like hospitality had become an, ‘everything or nothing’ kind of thing.

But now our options have all changed, and we don’t get/have to play by the rules we’d grown accustomed to. This is disorienting and unpleasant, but if we let it, the shock to our system can yield a profound new clarity.

Since we can’t get together in person, and our social distance is required - non-negotiable - we realize not only how much we need each other’s presence, but also how simple true presence really is.

It doesn’t take much, just a few people together. Maybe a little bread, a splash of wine. Some words, maybe a song, maybe a few tears. Real listening. And touch, when it’s safe, if there’s trust.

When restrictions are lifted, and we first go out to socialize, who among us will care if our neighbor’s house is impeccably clean, or which delicacies are served, or if anyone on the internet knows and likes that we went to a party? Nobody, we just want friends.

And so, on this Holy Thursday, as we commemorate Jesus friendship, simplicity and service, remember the beloved community he is still, even now, calling us toward.

It’s as simple as life, itself, shared. And it’s the thing we really need.

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