We do not discriminate and we do not judge! How great it would be if all churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues could honestly post that message with a banner across their front doors! How great it would be if our hearts were imprinted with such a message and our words flowed from a well of such thought.
The Prophet Isaiah [55:1-3] offers the following invitation,
All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk.
In the Gospel selection [Matthew 14:13-21], Jesus, with a heart MOVED BY PITY, arranged a dinner where 5,000 men + women + children ate until they were satisfied. In that crowd there must have been Jews and Gentiles — there must have been a few slaves attending to their masters. There must have been people of deep faith who had heard Jesus before. There must also have been a few curiosity seekers — and some who wondered what the big crowd was all about. There must have been a few adulterers. There must have been a few gay people. And yet, food was offered to all without discrimination or judgment. There must have been men who were strikingly handsome and women who were stunning in their beauty. And, there must have been “run of the mill folk” who were easily overlooked and forgettable. There must have been those who plotted evil and those who were victims of evil.
As Jesus shared a final Passover meal with his disciples, at the table was the one to betray him [Judas] and Peter who was to deny him. There were those who still did not understand what it meant to rise from the dead. There were those who were unsure if they accepted this stuff about suffering — and dying. Surely, he did not speak Latin when he uttered those words of “consecration” when the bread became his body and the wine became his blood.
Food and drink was available to all who came — without discrimination or judgment.
Pope Francis recently attended a gathering of Evangelical Christians [members of the Pentecostal movement] in southern Italy. He apologized for the treatment that leaders in this group received from “SO CALLED CATHOLICS”. He reached out and called them BROTHERS. There must have been many in the Vatican who had their “cages rattled” and who thought, “here he goes again.”
For years I have been saddened that our Roman Catholic Church drew such hard lines at the communion rail. Catholics in public office who disagree with the Church were told not to come to communion. Any thought of a Protestant coming to communion was/is forbidden. Too many priests made funerals and weddings a time to lecture Catholics “not in good standing” and “those who do not believe like we do” to make a spiritual communion.
Really? In 2014, is this what God would want us to be worrying about? Seriously, if Jesus planned a worship service — if he planned a community meal — what might it look like? Would a general invitation go out? Or, would there be a select few who would be worthy and welcome?
As I hear about some church groups denying baptism to the children of same gender couples — or firing a food pantry worker following her marriage to a lifelong partner — and I read Scripture like that offered to us this weekend, then I say — there is much to be learned.
If we were intentionally excluded from an event, what would we think of the person hosting the event? If we were made to “feel less than”, would we understand and want to ever go back? Surely, there are parties I might not want to attend and places I might not feel comfortable —– but, I would want the chance to go if I wanted to go. BEING EXCLUDED is the issue. If God does not exclude, why would any Church — worth its salt — or HIS LIGHT consider being harsh, judgmental, and discriminatory?
As an adult, I have to work at not being judgmental or discriminatory! When interviewing a teacher or an employee —- it is EASY to make quick judgments based on a person’s weight, age, clothing, color, gender —- before the person ever speaks. It takes effort — and the Spirit not to judge.
Where are the areas of life where I discriminate or judge? What steps to I need to be more welcoming? How discriminatory and judgmental is my Church? How do I deal with the discrimination or judgments of my Church?