“[Jesus said,] ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’
The Lament over Jerusalem
“At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!’”
Sunday, October 2 is World Communion Sunday. This observance began in 1936 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church but has, for some time, been celebrated across the Christian family and around the globe. In the passage we will read this week from Luke, Jesus describes those who will be excluded from the great banquet in God’s kingdom, but then he goes on to talk about those who will be included by saying, “People will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.” This is somewhat problematic for those of us who identify as Universalists, because in our view, God’s realm includes everyone . . . no exceptions.
What do you make of this seeming contradiction of exclusion and inclusion? How does it fit with your own vision of what the Realm of God is like?
Can you tell a story or anecdote about “the last being first and the first, last” from your own experience?
In your view is Christianity a force for world unity and peace or is it, as a sectarian religion, more of a detriment to those ideals?
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