Last night at our vespers service the group examined The Parable of the Dinner Party coupled with the The Great Commission. These two biblical passages focus on the idea of invitations. In the parable Jesus sets the scene by referencing the opportunity to eat with God in his Kingdom. Comparing it with a man who threw a dinner party and had his servant go and get the invited guest only to have his invitation rejected by those invited for various reasons. The man then instructs his servant to go and find anyone in the city and bring them to the party. Having additional space at the party he sends the servant to the outer fringes (the countryside) to get others to attend the dinner party. The man wanted his house full and he wanted those in attendance to be in need of a square meal, to be hungry. Last, the man states that none of the original invitees will get anything to eat at his dinner party.
The great commission which is Jesus' final instruction to his disciples, is about the invitation to go and train everyone you meet in this way of life i.e. making disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father, the son, and the holy spirit. Teaching them in all the things Jesus exampled and commanded.
The concept of inviting others into the fellowship, the Gospel, the salvation, the grace that comes with a personal relationship with Jesus was articulated in various ways by numerous members in the group. One of the things I took away from the evenings sharing was how different each of us perceives what the Dinner Party symbolizes and means.
One perception was that the original invitees were so close to the man that a dinner party had become common place and they were okay with not accepting because another invite would be forthcoming. And that those that were hungry for more intimacy with the man, starving for his food so to speak would not miss the opportunity. A desire of proximity to the man and his dinner party was desirable. Others needed more time to process the depth of the parable and its meaning for them. The group then was asked to answer the question of grading themselves on their individual responses to the great commission. How well we were going out and training everyone we meet in the ways of our lord and savior Jesus the Christ.
Most gave themselves failing grades, though a member who thought she struggled at going out was uplifted as to how her teaching the children in our Sunday school program was planting seeds in the children that were attending. In fact, several of our teachers are inviting children to know Jesus on a deeper level then they previously had known. Another shared how just earlier in the day she had an opportunity to speak with a member who had been away from the fellowship for a long period of time, but because she had taken time out to listen to this person and invite her back into the fold, she believed the person may be ready to return. Listening and being there and giving a personal invitation to the Dinner Party might restore hope. We ended with a time of prayer where each person shared a personal prayer concern with another and then that other person then prayed aloud for their concerns right then and there with the group also praying along in silence. An excercise in uplifting and caring for each other by communing with God in intercessory prayer.
Of course the fire pit was also enjoyable. There is something really spiritually powerful for me to be outdoors in fellowship with Gods creation of people and environment. Its very nomadic to be sitting around a fire in the dark of night praying and sharing our thoughts and beliefs with one another.