Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's God's Party

     I was having a conversation about Psalm 23 with a friend of mine. Mostly about vs. 5, and setting the table in the presence of our enemies. So I started thinking about the meaning of the verse. As I was looking at it, the meaning wasn't immediately clear to me. Is the table set before our enemies so that we can sit together? If so, think about how powerful a suggestion of forgiveness that would be. Or is it done to show our enemies how beloved we are, kind of like rubbing their faces in it. That would be satisfying, but I don't think that Jesus would be that petty.

     We have to remember that the Psalms are by, and large, prayers. And whatever you might think about the people that wrote them, or their meaning, they were prayed by human beings. That doesn't take away from them being powerful and spirit led. We read these each week assuming that they have meaning not only for their time, but for ours as well, and I don't think that could be possible unless God was involved in the reading and the writing. If we are honest with ourselves, we don't always pray for the things we should. Like any obsessed Hawks fan, I know I have asked God for a little "Divine Intervention" every now and then. But, do I really think that the world will end if Richard Sherman doesn't get another interception? Probably not. The point I am trying to make is that the prayers of humans back then were not any better or worse then prayers by humans today. I am sure there were times when they prayed for the elimination of their enemies when they should have been praying for something more eternal, and holy. If we look deeply into this verse, I think that might be what we see here. The table is set for me, not me and my enemies. I think the author is saying that this table is mine and only mine, and no one else is going to get any of it. That might be the case, but I don't think that is the message God is trying to make.

     Let's stop and think for just a second. When we look at scripture in the whole, there are teachings that tell of God giving victory over foes, against seemly insurmountable odds. That is God's victory. There are also teachings of God also being there in defeat, That still is God's victory, no matter where in the moment we are. We also see time and time again, the teachings of amazing stories of forgiveness. Ishmael and Isaac reuniting to bury their parents. Jacob and Esau let brotherly love overcome sibling rivalry. Or, how about Judas being at the table when bread is broken? Jesus prays for forgiveness for those that would cause him to die on the cross. I am not sure what the author intended, but the overwhelming story of salvation is that enemies do sit together at God's table.

     So, as we can learn from scripture, the Kingdom of Heaven operates very different than our own human world. Enemies sit at the same table. Barack Obama and Edward Snowden, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Alex Rodriguez and every baseball fan on the planet. It is something that our human minds can't fully comprehend. If God is the host, then He is the one who gets to do the invites. We might not like some of the people on the guest list, but it is not our party. So, where does that leave us? Imagine you are the Psalmist and put yourself in his place. You are sitting there ready for this amazing feast, looking forward to shoving it into your enemies face, and BAM !!!!! You notice He as set up places for them. Who is it? What do you feel inside? Anger, or joy and forgiveness? Do you start looking for another table, or start asking for the check?  Faith my friends, is not for the weak at heart, and don't misunderstand what I am saying, there is a lot more to forgiveness than just sitting down to a table. If you have heard any stories or experienced reconciliation and forgiveness you see or feel the courage and pain it takes. Forgiveness is a hard, hard thing and sometimes reconciliation can only occur beyond the grave, because it needs God to be involved that badly. If we want to call ourselves Christians, then we at least need to recognize this. There is room for everyone at God's table. No matter the distance between you and your enemies, the distance between you and God has already been closed, because it is always God's victory........Amen




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