One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. Luke 7:36 (NRSV)
Most of you know I love food and I love to eat. I suppose some would consider me a glutton but so far no one has called me that. One of the joys of being a pastor is that pastors are invited into peoples home and family celebrations, something that doesn’t’ happen for lawyers, doctors or other professionals. This was especially true in the first four parishes I served that were in much smaller towns than Chamberlain. I can identify with the Jesus in Luke’s gospel. Throughout Luke’s gospel we find a Jesus who loves to eat. We find Jesus inviting himself to Zacchaeus’s house, eating with Mary & Martha, Levi and after his resurrection with the two disciples from Emmaus. But what is surprising is that three times in Luke’s gospel Jesus eats with Pharisee’s (see also 11:37 & 14:1). None of the other gospels include stories of Jesus eating with Pharisees! But Jesus sharing a meal with Pharisees is consistent with Luke’s picture of Jesus inclusivity of all people. So Jesus eats with the unexpected, tax collectors, sinners and even his enemies. Because of that Jesus is even accused of being a glutton in the verses preceding this story. Jesus love of eating made me ponder some of the experiences I have had in sharing a meal with those who were different from me. Most of the invites from members are soon forgotten. But I still remember the first time I was invited to a giveaway. I also remember the first time I shared a meal at the Banquet in Sioux Falls when the youth group from Waubay volunteered. I remember the first time I shared the meal of Holy Communion at the prison congregation at Springfield. Meals are important for they help connect you with people, whether that is with strangers, members of the congregation you serve or with your family. But more important I believe meals connect you with Jesus Christ for I believe Jesus is present when we feast together. As a church we believe Jesus is present as we celebrate his meal. But I believe we need to expand that image and begin to also view Jesus presence whenever we eat together. After all, the most common table prayer begins with “Come Lord Jesus be our guest”. When we ask Jesus to be our guest then we need to believe that he will accept. Jesus accepted many dinner invites in Luke’s gospel and there is no reason to doubt that he will not accept our invite also.