I typically use the lectionary to preach from. Presently, I am preparing to preach on Philip baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts. It is a great text and what captivated me when I reread this story was that Philip left the Eunuch rejoicing.
Isn’t that great. The man was left rejoicing!
I suppose we can’t leave people rejoicing all the time. There are things that need to be said at times that require painful accountability. Sometimes, a harsh word is the loving word but even then I hope we try to bring with that accountability grace, mercy, forgiveness and joy. But still, even when we don’t leave others rejoicing all the time, can’t we leave them rejoicing much of the time?
I fear that we leave people rejoicing less often than we could because we are a little too preoccupied with serving as gate keepers, judges and bouncers rather than royal heralds proclaiming the Good News.
The Good News! God loves you now and forever and wants you to know it and live like it matters!
Jesus tells us in the parable of the Wedding Feast in Luke and Matthew that we are to be servants sharing the Good News by inviting all and everyone to celebrate the covenant between God and the world through Jesus. This incredible invitation occurs because the previously invited guests snub the King because they are now all too busy to attend.
So in Luke’s version he has the servants invite the poor, the lame, the crippled and the blind. Still there was room so the King sent the servants out again and told them to go everywhere and invite everyone they could find. They did. Matthew’s version, a much harsher version for sure, the servants are to invite everyone they can find, both good and bad, and trust that the King can discern who belongs and who doesn’t. The servants’ job in both is to invite. They are not empowered to be gate keeper, judge, or bouncer. Both versions give us a window into apostleship that has as its central task sharing the invitation that God wants everyone to come and be a part of this feast.
I think as servants of God in today’s world we can find courage to invite all and everyone and trust that God can figure out who is able to stay or not just as Jesus indicates in this parable. God, not us, decides who is in or not and who stays or leaves. I find arguments against LGBT folk’s full welcome and participation in church as a clear sign that people don’t trust God with that responsibility. I think if more of us did, we like Philip, would leave more people rejoicing like this Eunuch.
For me, it is not that important that others don’t think LGBT folk should be ministers, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers or even members. Whatever. However, I find it unacceptable that some would actually think it is their right to withhold such opportunities from LGBT folk because of their sexuality and gender identity.
The servants might not have been thrilled with all the rabble that came to the wedding feast. The folk invited who came might not have wanted anything to do with others that were equally invited, but if they wanted to stay and share in the joy and celebration they had to figure out a way to do it. The people who can’t handle the open invitation will probably find lame excuses not to come to the party the same way the King’s invited guest did. Too bad for them they just don’t know what they are missing.