Toni Belin Ingram
13Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?”
17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
18Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
21″No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
When I first started pastoring, a couple of homeless people and a few drug addicts used to come to the church and ask for food and money, I would give them work to do. We would sometimes sit for hours talking about who they were and their goals and dreams for their lives. Because of these two people, I gained the capacity to not look so much at who people were on the outside, but who they were striving to be on the inside. Those first few months helped me formulate the vision and mission of our church – to be a place where everyone is welcome. Only through the hospitality that Jesus teaches us are we able to truly reach the masses.
Let us Pray: Most gracious and compassionate God, convict, compel and challenge our hearts to have the capacity to seek out the lost, to encourage the weary, and have compassion for the downtrodden. Show us what it means to fully live out the mission that you put before us so long ago. In Jesus’ name Amen.