January 10, 2022

Upside-down Hospitality

Luke 14:1-14

“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.”

—  Luke 14:13

I have a friend who hosts holiday meals at church for folks who have no one to spend the holiday with. They might be new to our church, far from family (physically or emotionally), or low on friends.

In Jesus’ day, just as in our day, people enjoyed being invited to gatherings of the rich and famous as a way to climb the social ladder. The guests who sat nearest to the host were the most elite, and next to them were guests of slightly lower status, and so on.

A prominent Pharisee—a religious leader—invited Jesus to a gathering like that. And Jesus was not impressed. He looked around and saw people who had already achieved high status, and he pointed out the glaring absence of people who were excluded and forgotten.

It’s easy for us to embrace our people from whom we have something to gain. But Jesus turns our world upside down and says that the last will be first and the first will be last. So who should be on our list to call, text, email, or invite to our homes?

Jesus says we are blessed when we get out of our comfort zones and build relationships with people who may be marginalized, such as those who are widowed, divorced, homeless, gay, immigrants, single moms, ex-prisoners, and more. Jesus invites us to his banquet and offers us the best seat in the house. Can we do the same?

Lord Jesus, root us so deep­ly in you that our hearts overflow with love to share with everyone—without expecting anything in return. Amen. (BMB)

About the author — Al Mulder and Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Al Mulder served as a church pastor in Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico and in ministry roles with denominational missions in North America. He is a member of Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Al and Joanna Meyer, both widowed, married in 2020. Together they have eight children, 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Bonny Mulder-Behnia began work in ministry after a career in journalism. While serving on staff at Madison Square Church, Grand Rapids, and later at Rosewood Church in Bellflower, Calif., she completed seminary training and is now a copastor at Rosewood Church. Bonny is married to Jahangir Behnia and has two children and one grandchild.

As father and daughter, Al and Bonny have a shared passion for multicultural ministry. Their initials (AM and BMB) indicate which meditations they have written for the month of January.

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