“But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” Malachi 3:2
My grandmother, Roberta Harris is the queen of hospitality. As an adult I have carried on my grandmother’s tradition of welcoming, but what I have found most curious is the guest list. Person A shouldn’t be on the list because they negatively impact Person B. Person C doesn’t have a filter and so shouldn’t be invited to eliminate the triggering of others. Person D is only invited out of Christian “charity”. This game of moving parts can be exhausting for a host and makes me wonder which invite list would Jesus be on. Would Jesus make the cut for Easter Dinner? The reality is Jesus would be a frustrating guest. He would say things that would disrupt our comfort. He would discuss politics, systematic oppression, white-supremacy, Black Lives Matter, uninterrupted wages for those impacted by COVID-19 and religion. He would draw attention to himself, make the privileged grimace and interrogate why some people were intentionally absent from the table. As a result of his presence some of the laughs and small talk would become serious and seemingly too challenging for a Saturday night dinner party. We live and worship in a space often cultivated for our comfort, challenge but not too much, spiritual but restricted, open but with strings about to whom and how much.
Let’s face it! Jesus would not get invited. Maybe for a one-on-one dinner but not the dinner party. We want guests who are polite, who know the subjects not to discuss, who won’t irritate the other guests. This Jesus, the real Jesus, can’t help but make people uncomfortable and invites us to be better people. This Jesus is not sanitized, not pretty, but shows up like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap, ready to wash our self-righteousness, fragile egos, and presumed “rightness”. I want to get to the place where Jesus is always on my guest list. I’m not there yet! Are you?
Creator of all things, we are all washed in your appearing, you challenge us to be our best selves. In you there is discomfort, in you there is a mirror in which I am not always ready to see my true reflection. In you there is the face of a bruised world that I am called to live fully within as opposed to building walls without. Help me to invite you to my table, and be refined by your fire, to live this life fully and authentically.
Rev. Darrell Goodwin