“What type of person do you want to be?”
I was taken aback when asked this question during a college service-learning trip. Rather than focusing on what I should be doing as a career, the question shifted my perspective on vocation to how God was calling me to live a life rooted in the gospel. It still challenges me today.
Our readings for October take us to the vineyard and the banquet table, where we hear not only how God cultivates community but also how we are called to welcome others to God’s table. In Matthew’s parable of the wedding banquet, we hear the invitation to “come” and bring others: “Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find …” (22:9). But the invitation doesn’t come without expectations. When the king sees that his friend isn’t wearing the appropriate attire, he becomes angry. Perhaps the king is being petty, but what if his anger challenges his “friend” (22:12) to live a fuller life by holding him accountable in his dress and actions?
When I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Gambia, every meal provided an open invitation to anyone nearby. Whenever food was served, all were invited with this refrain: “Come and eat!” Until those within earshot said yes, they’d hear: “Come and eat.”
“Come and eat” reminds me that the gospel life is best lived in community, where we join our voices together for justice and peace.
“Come and eat” has become my refrain too. It’s an invitation that forms the heart of how I live out my calling. “Come and eat” compels me to take time to offer what I have to others. “Come and eat” reminds me that the gospel life is best lived in community, where we join our voices together for justice and peace; where we hold ourselves accountable to value the richness and diversity of God’s kingdom.
2020 hasn’t turned out how anyone imagined. This year has continually asked us to change, adapt and welcome a new way of being in community and being church. By the time Reformation Sunday arrives, what sort of truth will we be clinging to amid radical change, upheaval, uncertainty and an upcoming election? Can we remember the heart of the Reformation message, trusting that we are free in Christ to love and serve our neighbors? How can we listen to God for how we’re individually and communally called to serve others? Where can we say to our neighbors: “Come and eat”?
This October, may we profess loudly that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Through lives rooted in faith, may we share this truth with all who hunger.