I will do my best to have a weekly email go out every Tuesday morning. This communication will contain a written summary of the sermon, some follow up questions the sermon raises, birthdays for the week, the daily Bible readings, weekly announcements, calendar events, and prayer needs raised over the last week. It is my hope that this can continue long after the corona virus crisis is over, so we can remain as connected as possible as a church!
ROOM AT THE TABLE –based on Luke 14:7-23
Quarantines, self-isolation, and social distancing is really hard. I don’t think there is a single soul on this earth who enjoys it. I know for my family, it feels like something is missing–no sporting events, musical rehearsals, dance rehearsals at the studio, school, and minimal home visits. It feels like a deep part of who we are has been cut off because of the important need to self-isolate to minimize the spread of this very crippling disease. Yet, at the same time of our isolation, we see pictures of young people on the beaches of Florida and California, essentially expressing the desire to do what they want to do and no one and no disease would stop them. In their selfishness, they run the risk of costing many lives.
But do we inadvertently do the same? Just as physical selfishness in this case can potentially cost the lives of many strangers, so too spiritual selfishness can cost the eternal souls of many strangers! That is a very sobering statement.
It was the religious leaders that constantly came into conflict with Jesus–not the Romans or the world. In Luke 14, we see more of that conflict. Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house, where he had the ability to heal a man with dropsy. Jesus used this moment to challenge the thinking of all present–is it lawful to heal? Then Jesus began to teach about humbling oneself and honoring the blind, lame, mute, and deaf. This was a group of people the religious elite believed were “cursed” with their condition because they were in a state of sin, or their parents were in a state of sin. This group, they would argue, would never be welcome in the kingdom of God. They believed the kingdom was only for people like them, and did not care what happened to those outside of them. This was clearly reflected in the man who exclaimed, “Blessed is the one who eats the feast in the kingdom of God!”
To this, Jesus gave a parable to reflect the hearts of the religious in that room, and also to contrast it with the heart of God. A master hosted a feast in a town. We know at least three guests were invited, but they all decided to no longer attend the feast. They all came up with an excuse. The first just bought a piece of land, and needed to explore it. But Jewish customs taught that real estate transactions occurred in the morning, and would not be finalized until the property was carefully evaluated. The second just bought five yoke of oxen and needed to test them to see if they could work together. Again, Jewish custom taught that when oxen were brought to the marketplace for sale, they were already tested to make sure they would work together; otherwise, they would never have sold. The third just got married. Although this sounds more reasonable, towns would not have double booked, and if he knew he was getting married at the same time, why agree to come to the feast?
All three examples missed out on the feast for selfish reasons. Their view of the host was one of convenience. I will say yes to keep my position, for it is my right to be there, but I will not value you or actually do the work to attend. I will hold my spot and arrive when I arrive, if I do at all. And as long as my spot is held for me, it cannot go to anyone else. Their attitude showed not only their selfishness, but also their ultimate view of God–they will only come to God when it is on their terms and time, not on God’s.
In the parable, when the host was rejected, he then asked the servants to go out into the streets and alleys to find those rejected: the blind, lame, poor, and deaf. Even after doing so, there was still room. The servants were compelled to go into the country roads and lanes to find as many as they could, for the table must be filled. The very ones welcomed now to this banquet were the ones that no one would even dare bring into a house–they were the undesirables, the unclean. By this we see the heart of God–he wants a full table in heaven! He wants all, regardless of their lot in life, to have the opportunity to taste the banquet.
So what does this have to do with the original statement–that our spiritual selfishness can lead to the eternal death of others? Do we hoard God? Do we inadvertently have an attitude that our ticket to heaven is punched, and then we are on cruise control and come to God only when we feel like it? Do we partake of the banquet?
Also, are we compelling others to come in and enter? Who are the undesirables of our day? Maybe it is the politicians (both right and left)? Maybe it is the refugee and illegal in our country? Maybe it is the drug addict? Maybe it is those very young people who are not taking coronavirus seriously! Are we reaching them with the good news of Jesus–or do we just ignore them and let them get what they deserve?
There is plenty of room at God’s table. Will we be the guests who made excuses and refused to come? Or will we be the servants, going into the highways and byways, sharing the good news of Jesus, allowing people to have the opportunity to come to a place of repentance and salvation?
It is not easy to quarantine, but we do so for the good of our neighbor. It is not easy to reach out with the gospel, especially to those who we struggle with…but we do so for their spiritual good, and they can find eternal life!
Questions for reflection
1) What is your general attitude toward God?
2) Has there ever been a time you have felt God’s invitation? Did you answer that invitation? Why or why not?
3) Who is on your list of undesirables? Would you be able to share Christ with them? Why or why not?
Pastor Ryan will continue in the season of Lent with the sermon titled, “Juice and Bread?” based on 1 Corinthians 11:17-32. Why should Love Feast be taken seriously? Isn’t it just another meal? And why does my disposition toward my brother and sister in Christ matter?
Daily Bible Readings for March 24 – 30
March 24: Isaiah 55:1-13 Who belongs at the table of the Lord?
March 25: Mark 14:12-26 Who belongs at the table of the Lord?
March 26: Luke 7:36-50 Who belongs at the table of the Lord?
March 27: Luke 15:11-32 Who belongs at the table of the Lord?
March 28: John 14:1-6 Who belongs at the table of the Lord?
March 29: Exodus 12:1-30 How did the bread and the blood assist in salvation?
March 30: Leviticus 16 What is the role of the scapegoat in the removal of sins? What is the role of the sacrifice of blood in salvation?
Beaver Creek will be closed through the end of April, in keeping with Executive Order 53 and the recommendation of the Shenandoah District and the Leadership Team.
Livestream of the Sunday morning service will continue. We are working on creative ways for us to “come together” as a church without physically coming together.
We still need three volunteers to help with a congregational cluster! They have been grouped for the most part by either family or Sunday school class. If you are willing to help, please let pastor Ryan know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Direct Deposit–form available on the website
2) Mail your tithe into the church office
3) Drop it by church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
4) New online giving platform that will be launched in the coming days.
Guidance From Governor Northam
I was on a conference call with over 3000+ ministers last evening across the Commonwealth. Here are the big pieces of information that are immediately relevant:
1) It has been recently determined that the virus remains in the air for at least three hours, and can simply be passed on by breath. So the idea of being outside six feet apart is misinformation.
2) The rule of 10 applies in every gathering, including outdoor gatherings AND funerals.
3) Please take the time to complete the census. The census will determine representation in congress and federal $$ coming into the state.
4) If your annual salary is less than $17,238, you are eligible for medicaid under the medicaid expansion.
5) If you are in need of help, please contact us here at the church, or go to 211virginia.org which has a database by area to access services available in our area.
6) If you or someone you know is concerned about food for your children, the schools are tasked with providing meals for children who are present. It doesn’t matter what school your child attends; just attend your nearest site. We have two close by, at Ottobine and Pence.
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB