What does it take to be a Christian? Well, it depends who you talk too. For some its about a new life, letting go of the old, and moving on. For some it's about doing good, for others it's about power and control. Yet, that keeps it at surface level. What does it take to be a Christian? It is to build up not our own glory, but God’s glory through everything we are and do. But what does that mean? When we look to scripture, we hear of our greatest commandment, to love God with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds, and to love each other as we love ourselves. Everything in life depends on these two commandments. At the very heart of what scripture is saying to us about being Christian, it is grounded in relationship- the wholeness of our bodies directed to God, and the wholeness of our relationships directed to one another. For us as Christians this relationship is about living our truth, that is, living our lives in the freedom of what Christ is, for, and with us. Something we practice every week in the sacred meal of the Eucharist. So what does it take to be Chrisitan? Food, relationship, and community.
For the Christ of Luke, food, relationship, and community go hand in hand. The social landscape of Christ’s time was one focused around food, something which isn't much different for us now- we still need to eat just like Christ did. For Christ, in the midst of Roman occupation, there were clear lines of social etiquette to follow. We don't eat with those lesser than us, we don't invite unpopular people to our parties, we should act to show the prominence of our family, our wealth, our social position. This is how the world measures us: by what we produce, accumulate, or come from- not who we are. Indeed, meals became a political nightmare which evolved into a drama of posturing for fame and accord which has continued down today. Who we eat with, how we look, and what we do about both mater in this world we are told: but then enter’s Jesus, and flips these ideas into a kingdom life. Yet by flipping our world, he’s showing us how to live at the same time.
There is every likelihood that Jesus was invited to dinner today because of his place of prominence among his followers, rather than because he was friends with the hosts. Which when we think about hosting a dinner at our homes seems weird, we like to eat with those we know. Food is a personal thing, we all have different tastes and habits around food, yet Christ is asking us to get even more personal in how we see ourselves in this parable. The kingdom of Rome, the powers and institutions which keep us under control and organized, tell us to act and be in a certain way- to act the part of who we are supposed to be in the world- a contributing, active, and engaged, tax payer to the emperor. But that creates a disconnect between who we are and what we are. As humans we are built for relationship, and no matter how hard we try- we can’t fake relationships, and relationships take humility to work- which is a process of growth and development within ourselves which focuses in on our greatest truth- a desire to be free and whole. The humility of what Christ is calling us to today, is a foretaste of the humility he will take on for us at the Cross- the ultimate witness to the power of relationship. But to understand this, we must live our truth.
Living our truth is about owning what it means to be a Christian: to dare to live differently, speak differently and be differently because of the freedom Christ won for us on the cross. This freedom is about who and what you and I are capable of- which is incredible joy, abundant love, mind blowing creativity, and life changing presence. Now don’t be fooled, this is not some hallmark catch phrase, we are made for relationship and relationships change the world. Through relationships we saw the saving force of Gods love to save us forever by the cross on Good Friday, to conquer death on Easter Sunday, and to call us again and again to the edge of the waters of baptism to peer in and wonder anew where God is calling us to go. Through relationships we build community, we tackle isolationism, we overcome violence, and we build a better world. And it all starts here, today. In a few moments, we will be called into the profound relationship of the Eucharist- a moment which unites us vertically to God, and Horizontally to each other through the outstretched body and blood of Christ on the cross. What we are called to do together again this week, is to go out into the world carrying the Body of Christ within us, to live our truth: that Jesus came to set us free, free from the oppressors of this world that tell us we aren't enough, that we don't belong, that we must be different, to set the world ablaze with the beauty of our lives. Maybe this is the week you offer yourself for ministry with the homeless ministry, or join a guild. Maybe this is the week you invite a parishioner you don't know well for coffee or dinner. Maybe this is the week you invite someone to join you next week at church, to experience the freedom this community gives to you. Maybe this is the week you start giving to the ministry of this parish out of the abundance God has given you to steward. This is what it means to “live your truth” my friends, live hospitality, love with the tenacity of Christ, and give abundantly of who you are and what you have. The world will know we are Christians not by our words, but by our actions.