30 January 2010

A Most Unusual Wedding Feast

I find the greatest stories are ones that have a similar, if not exact, likeness from parables and stories taken from the Word of God.

This story taken from The Boston Globe sounds suspiciously like Jesus' parable of the Great Feast (Luke 14:15-24). I believe that when we see it happen in our earthly modern day world, we can better clearly grasp the true scope of the significance of the story.

True Grace is best represented in the form of a Feast, because it is food for our soul, comes at a sacrifice to the giver, done without charge, undeserved, free, no strings attached, on the house, to those who do not deserve it, and to those who can never pay them back.

This Feast is reserved for you in Heaven...


A Most Unusual Wedding Party
The Boston Globe
June 1990

Everything had been prepared, including the expensive wedding ring. Months before the wedding, the bride and the groom-to-be planned a great reception. The couple had gone to the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston and painstakingly picked out the menu, the china and silver, and even the flower arrangements that they liked. The bill came to $13,000, and for something like that, they had to leave a 50% down payment.

The next few months were spent on ironing out the remaining one thousand and one details: the immaculately-white wedding cake, the limousine, and of course, last-minute finishing touches on the wedding gown. Everyone was so excited.

Then the day the invitations were about to be sent out, the groom-to-be suddenly got cold feet and told his fiancĂ©e that he really wasn’t sure if he was ready. To make a long story short, the wedding was canceled, and the woman, our potential bride, as expected, was upset.

To make matters worse, her ex-fiancĂ© disappeared altogether from the scene, leaving her the painful task of canceling all previous arrangements, including the wedding party. As if things were not bad enough, when she went to the Hyatt to cancel the reception, the Events Manager shook her head sympathetically and told her, “The contract is binding. You’re only entitled to $1,300 back. You have two options: to forfeit the rest of the down payment, or go ahead with the banquet. I’m sorry.”
Guess what the bride decided to do? She decided to go ahead with the party—not a wedding party, of course, but a big blow-out. She had the wild notion of inviting not her family and friends, but the poor people of Boston! So she invited the aging from the nursing homes—and still not content with that, she also sent out invitations to rescue missions and homeless shelters! Her friends, of course, thought she had gone out of her mind. “Are you crazy?” they told her, “throwing a party that’s free for all?!” “Yup,” she quipped, “all in honour of the groom.”

And so in June of 1990, the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Boston hosted a party unlike any other held there before. The homeless came; the elderly were wheeled in from their nursing homes. People who were used to picking up half-gnawed pizza from trash bins feasted instead on chicken cordon bleu. Hyatt waiters in tuxedos served champagne to senior citizens in wheelchairs and aluminum walkers. Bag ladies, drug addicts, and beggars took the night off from the streets of downtown Boston, relished the wedding cake, and danced in the most unusual wedding party of all.

"Is this the Religious section?"

This week I was volunteering for the co-ordinator who leads scripture teaching at my local church.

It was an early start after a late night, a draining week at work and required a lot of energy, time and effort. After picking up 4 boxes of books for the entire school year and missing breakfast to make it on time, we soon set up and got underway selling the books for the year to stressed, busy parents and their kids first week of school.

On one side of the long table was the Anglican books and the other side the Catholic books, which was run by different classes, teachers, curriculum's and churches. Parents could choose which denomination to send their children for the year, which is not a mandatory subject, with a slight majority choosing the Anglican classes.

The four sides of the hall where all the schools books were sold for the year were divided into different subjects and categories. Midway throughout the busy morning a lady approached our table and asked quite bluntly, “Is this the Religious section?” I didn’t think much of it at the time but on reflection driving home I couldn’t help smiling and laughing at her statement.

It didn’t matter to her that the team were all made up of volunteers, with our own busy lives, happily serving with a smile, total strangers united by our faith in Christ. It didn’t matter that I missed breakfast that morning or that it was my one day off this week. And it didn’t matter that it was a sacrifice to be standing there that day only to be called 'religious'...


I don’t believe for one second that Jesus was religious. He was a man of sacrificial love, abundant grace, and extravagant mercy. He healed the sick, visited the needy, forgave the outcasts of society and died on a cruel cross for the Salvation of mankind.

If anyone was religious it was the Pharisees who demanded that their laws and rules be obeyed without question. They were the ones who had no love, no grace and no mercy. They were the ones who did not heal or visit the needy who were bound by their circumstances based on their position in society. And they were the ones who could not forgive those who might have made some bad decisions in life, easily influenced by the pressures and injustices of their broken world.

Perhaps this lady could be mistaken for having a bad day, under the stress of the moment, or struggling to make ends meet to pay for two books for $5 that would last the entire year for her child’s education.

Or perhaps I could have mentioned that this book might be the most life changing influence on their life, affecting the beliefs and values they live by for the rest of their life. Or that the class would be at the very least helpful and encouraging, or at the most inspirational and play a profound impact on their life for the next 70+ years?

I believe her question was incorrect. How can a handful of genuine people, sacrificing so much of their time, expecting nothing in return, with their only motive being their passion to teach kids about Christ be called religious? ‘Religion’ does not have true faith or live a life of good works. Religion is not sacrificial or full of love, grace and mercy. I believe her question should have been rather “Is this the Faith section?”