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“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ – Matthew 22:8-9 (NIV)

The US Presidential inauguration kicked off the season of parties, balls and gala for the powerful, rich and famous.  The season continues and rounds into form with this weekend’s Super Bowl.  There will be countless Super Bowl parties, but I’m not referring to the kind where hot wings and nachos are on the menu.  I’m talking about the kind of parties attended by “A-listers” where formal tickets are issued and scanned for admission by security and where gift bags of expensive tchotchke are distributed to people who really don’t need them.  The celeb party season rounds to a close later this month with the  Oscars and all its parties.

In the text above Jesus tells a parable that started out with a VIP guest list, but ended up being an open call.  A king’s son, a prince, was getting married so it seems, and the king sent his servants out far and wide to invite the movers and shakers (Matt 22:3).  The king enticed the invited guests with a menu of oxen and fatted calf, yet they still did not come. A parallel telling of the parable in Luke reveals the guests offered every imaginable excuse for not coming (Luke 14:18-21).  Upon hearing about the number of declined invitations, the frustrated king extended an open invitation to all.

The king in the parable is God and his son is of course Jesus Christ.  God called the Jews to be his chosen people to showcase himself to the rest of humanity.   The Jews largely rejected Jesus’ messianic claims.  John 1:11 states, “He [referring to Jesus] came unto his own and own received him not” (KJV).  Jesus’ death and resurrection become a gateway for God’s message of salvation to all humanity.  The invitation to the wedding feast was extended to all.

The King of King’s invitation is to the ultimate party, the wedding feast of the Lamb of God – an eternal celebration in God’s presence.  The best thing about this party is that everyone is invited!  You don’t have to been on the Forbes 400 richest people list or trending on Twitter.

However, like many exclusive engagements admittance is based on who you know.  You must know the bridegroom – Jesus Christ.   Knowing not from a sense of giving mere mental assent to his existence as a historical figure or teacher of moral principles, but knowing from a sense of placing your very life in his hands.  It is this transfer of trust that purchases your wedding attire and admittance to the party.  In the parable those who were attired inappropriately were cast out of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:11-14).

The invitation has gone out.  My question is, have you RSVP’ed in the affirmative?  If you have, terrific.  My second question is, are you telling others about the party?  In the Lucan account of the parable the master tells his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full”(Luke 14:23)(NIV).

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let each one who hears them say, “Come.” (Revelation 22:17a).

An Adventurous Walk

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Paul Salopek planned route on his seven year trek across the world

Reporter Paul Salopek planned route on his seven year trek across the world (Courtesy of National Geographic)

 All along my pilgrim journey, I want Jesus to walk with me – Lyrics to Negro Spiritual

I recently heard a story listening to News Headlines on Stitcher about reporter Paul Salopek’s ambitious plan to walk around the world in seven years.  Interestingly, he’s calling his endeavor, “Out of Eden” in which he will retrace the steps of what many scientists believe to have been the migration path of early man.  Salopek will begin his journey in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia and plans to conclude his trek in Tierra del Fuego, off the southernmost tip of South America.  He will be carrying little more than a backpack with a lightweight Apple laptop, a satellite phone and camping gear.  He will at various times be traveling with translators.  Salopek is married, but his wife not accompanying him on his trek.  She will be visiting him from time to time. The reporter’s journey will take him through areas that are current Middle East hot spots.  Who knows what currently peaceful areas might prove to be volatile by the time Salopek arrives there?  Although he estimates his walk will take seven years, he’s only planning a year in advance, due to future uncertainty.  Salopek mused whether or not to even pack his house keys.

Upon hearing of Salopek’s ambitious plans I was immediately fascinated, but not ready to follow in his footsteps.  He’s really venturing out of faith, I thought, uncertain as to who or what he might encounter on his journey  The next thought that entered my mind was that how did I know my journey through life over the next seven would be any less than adventurous than Salopek”s?  My life at present seems  routine by comparison, but who knows when the routine might be interrupted?  My life has been interrupted in the past by good and bad fortune alike.  It’s unlikely I’ll transverse as much of the earth as the reporter does, but that’s not to say my life (or yours) won’t be as adventuresome.  Lack of extensive travel does not necessarily mean a life devoid of adventure.  Except for a trip to Egypt as a child, scripture does not record Jesus ever leaving Palestine, an area smaller in size than the state of New Jersey, yet even non-Christians acknowledge his significant impact on the world.

Who knows what experiences you or I will encounter in our own little pieces of the world?  Truth is, I don’t and neither do you.  We make plans, and it’s good to plan, but our plans don’t come with a guarantee attached (James 4:13-15).  As the saying goes, “man plans and God laughs.”

During our lives we experience joys that rival scenic vistas, beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks and lush tropical rain forests.  We encounter sorrows that seem like inhospitable deserts and barren tundras.  Yet no matter where our walk in life takes us, if we are followers of Christ, we never walk alone.

David reminds us, “I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence!  If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me” (Psalm 139:7-10)(NIV).

That includes Ethiopia, Tierra del Fuego and all points in between.