God has spread out for our delight a banquet that was twenty billion years in the making. A banquet of rivers and lakes, of rain and of sunshine, of rich earth and of amazing flowers, of handsome trees and of dancing fishes, of contemplative animals and of whistling winds, of dry and wet seasons, of cold and hot climates. But it is a banquet that works, this banquet called creation, the human planet. It works for our benefit if we behave toward it as reverent guests. (Matthew Fox Original blessing 112)
I have not been able to get these words out of my head this week. Every time I looked at a cloud formation, gasped in awe at the beauty of Mt Rainier or wandered my garden exclaiming at the beauty of the flowers, I thanked God for this incredible banquet twenty billion years in the making. Then I looked up at the stars, reminded of the incredible NASA photos of the place where stars are birthed. This banquet we call creation is incredible, if only we will look around and admire the mystery of it with all our senses – looking, listening, tasting, smelling, touching – eating and drinking of the wonder around me.
Fox goes on to explain another stunning aspect of the hospitality of God – in the Eucharist God then becomes the banquet for us. When we share communion together we share the life of Jesus. The bread and the wine given from the earth, made by human hands to be shared with love and generosity are part of the banquet of God’s hospitality, and the sharing of them is an incredible opportunity to thank God for the amazing banquet of our lives. It is also more than that, however. It is a sharing of Christ’s life, and a commitment to live as followers of Jesus. As we share communion together, we are reminded of and celebrate together the life that Jesus shared among his community throughout the centuries and shares with us today. We are reminded and give thanks for Jesus the banquet feast of God who nourishes and sustains us in all that we do.
Last but certainly not least, according to Fox, God does not stop here.
God not only plays the host for us and becomes the banquet for us; God also has become guest for us. This is one of the deep meanings of the incarnation, that God let go of hosting long enough to become guest as well. It is as if the human race could understand the hosting side of hospitality, but the guesting side, was becoming more and more difficult to grasp. Love is not just setting the table and going out food; love is also the receiving end of the banquet. And for this the human race begged an incarnation, a fleshy enactment of the guesting side of God, of holiness and of hospitality. Jesus is an excellent guest, a true revelation of God’s guesting side. (Matthew Fox Original blessing 113)
Jesus is the guest who waits to be invited into our hearts and into our lives, inspiring and transforming us so that we long to become like him sharing our lives and our resources with those at the margins, those who need healing and those who need to see the love and generosity of our incredible God.
What is the appropriate response from deep within the human person to this banquet of blessings spread before us so lavishly? Fox asks, “True holiness, full hospitality, lead to gratitude.” Thankfulness and gratefulness bubble up inside us when we consider the wonder and mystery of a God who is both host and guest in this world. It is a thankfulness that seems to fill the whole universe and reverberate through every part of each ancient yet fresh day creation in which we find ourselves.
Take time today to get out and feast on the incredible banquet God still spreads for us. Feast your eyes on the wonder of cloud formations, listen to the wind whistling in the trees and the melody of birds around you. Stop and inhale the fragrance of the air after rain, run your fingers over the lavender and inhale its wonderful aroma and taste the fruit and herbs around you.
After your walk, sit in a quiet place and contemplate the wonder of a creation banquet feast that was twenty billion years in the making. Is there a response God is asking of you?
You might like to share this prayer:
Thank you God
for the wonder of creation,
a gift of delight
Twenty billion years in the making.
Thank you God for the gift of Christ,
The guest who waits for our invitation.
May we welcome him into our lives
And be transformed
Into caring, sharing, loving followers
Seeking to change the world,
Bringing refreshment and renewal.
If you have time watch last week’s Facebook live session where Lilly and I talked about hospitality and the gift of life.
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