Luke 14:1, 7-14
An act of kindness. I mean humility is one thing, being kind to the people you would rather leave out is what Jesus is asking. One kind word. If you are recognized and asked to come forward to sit at the head table isn't that what you are receiving? Kindness? When Paul in Colossians lists what a person in Christ should clothe themselves with its a list of traits: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It is echoed this morning in Hebrews 13, have mutual love for one another.
Now when we have this love, kindness is a by product of the love. One kind word of invitation. Think of how much this would mean in a world where who is out and excluded is so rampant. Even from my home state of Maine this week. Unkind words, no invitation to the table, instead words of threat and who is considered the worst of these. A kind word. We are so in need of it. So thirsty for it.
Turn to your neighbor and say, "God loves you." Then turn to your neighbor and say, "you are invited to the table."
In our church all are invited to the table. All who would come and receive. All who want to walk through the doors. All are welcomed, then we have to follow through with kindness. With extending our hands in welcome at the peace. With kind words of interest in their lives. Because if we didn't it's discouraging.
Growing up my mom had a rule, if you called anyone a name you had to stand in the mirror and call it to yourself. Now some days when we were goofing around we'd walk up to the mirror and laugh our heads off. Other days though, the days when we were angry and we really meant our sibling was stupid we'd cry. Cause it hurt.
Every time we are unkind and do not reach out the hand of invitation we are hurting not only the person we do it to, we are hurting ourselves. Madeleine L'Engle wrote about it in terms of the scientific notion of the butterfly effect. It has far reaching implications when even one unknown tribe dies out. It effects a universe. All the unkindness, all the times we ignore inviting people to the table, all the times we think it's not important add up. They influence more than we know.
This is what Jesus is telling the Pharisees and lawyers today. One kind word of invitation instead of self promotion. One person invited who can't pay us back. One hand extended in encouragement. Turn to your neighbor and tell them "they are not forgotten, God loves them too." Are you getting the picture? See how the kind words spread. Paul has been telling us to encourage one another, love one another, spread the love around. It's what we need.
Spread it around to those without help. Spread it around to those without hope. Spread it around to those without love. Spread it around the world. Then we will see good news light up the world and not a bunch of candle snuffers. Then we make a difference to our community and the world. A kind word. Do you have it to give?