October 1, 2023: An Open Invitation

communion cups

World Communion Sunday

An Open Invitation

Sometimes I wish I were as clever as Jesus! He wiggles out of the trickster questions put to him by temple leaders, and then turns the tables on them! They find themselves between a rock and a hard place. It occurred to me, however, that my “gotcha” ego response was missing the point.

The question the leaders put before him is about authority. They are asking Jesus a question that comes from the heart of the institution: Who do you think you are? How dare you think you can change the way we do things?

I find myself wondering about Jesus’ heart in that moment. Were there tears lingering just behind his eyelids? Was there an ache deep in his heart, an ache that cried out, “Oh, it could have been so different”? Were his shoulders slumped, trying to carry the weight of it all?

Jesus hadn’t risked becoming human to trip anyone up! Jesus came to show us what Love looks like walking around encased in skin, how love moves willingly toward the ways of our Abba. His mission was to soften hearts of stone, to extend endless invitations to the new thing God was doing, to welcome those discounted, disowned, and cast aside.

In the view from my heart, I noticed something I missed in earlier readings. Even at the end, the invitation remains open! Jesus does not say the leaders will never make their way into the kingdom. He says some will make it sooner; some will get it more quickly; some will recognize the kingdom in their midst and want to join in right away! Others, well, it may take others a little longer. God’s love is so forgiving, so welcoming, so grace filled, that it doesn’t matter when you arrive.  What matters is that you arrive.


Maggie Wellert, retired pastor and spiritual director
Easton, Pennsylvania