Today one of the passages I drew from during the sermon was Luke 14:15-24 and discovered that it was a great passage with many preaching angles that I didn’t get to (mainly because I was trying to stay on topic, which is always a good thing).
I’m still thinking about the parable Jesus told of the Great Banquet this afternoon especially about the crowd that received the first set of invitations. This was the group of people who the Master of the house invited to the great feast first but in the end made excuses as to why they couldn’t come. As the scripture was read today, I heard several folks chuckling during the “excuses” section of the content of the story.
And, the excuses are worth laughing about.
One man said that he couldn’t come to the party because they’d just purchased a field and needed to examine his new purchase. One said he just bought five yokes of oxen and needed to go and see about them. And, the third sent his regrets after just been married (my favorite of the three– the timeless lesson that when the woman of the house is happy, the entire house is happy).
I read an article this week by Fred Craddock about this passage which he said the excuses given were totally acceptable in the culture of the society at the time. It was letimate reason to say you had to examine a new purchase of land, deal with your animals or spend time with your new wife. Craddock urged readers of this text not to be so hard on the first round drop outs.
And, while I certainly agree with Craddock, more grace is what all of our relationships need more of, I couldn’t help but draw modern parallels to this passage about how few of us are willing to “stick with” our commitments too.
I’ve thinking a lot lately about how so many of us make commitments to be at events, meetings or even parties and then just don’t follow through.
In the church, you find a completely volunteer run organization. We are completely dependant (minus what our paid staff does) on contributions others are willing to make above and beyond their income earning jobs. As a result, I like my other non-profit colleagues am always grateful for whatever time, energy and finances others are willing to give. Anything is always better than nothing, right? But, yet still wonder at times what it would be like if we all gave our best and make our spiritual and service commitments a priority?
I’ve also seen this lack of “stick-itwith itness” (an Elizabeth version of a word) in my social life with friends and family. It is so easy to get caught up in your own world and those who live in your own household. It is easy to think you have time for commitments and then life happens and you realize that you can’t do all that you promised. (Good self-care, which I am a fan of, is a part of saying no, even sometimes at the last minute. Saying no when we really can’t do something is about being a sane human being).
Yet, at the same time, I often think that our society really does little these days to model for future generations the qualities of loyality and faithfulness. It is the norm to make appointments and cancel them as it didn’t matter. It is the norm to take weeks to return phone calls. It is the norm to say you are going to be somewhere and then not show up without a call or an email explaining why.
So often, we don’t really know how to stick with partnerships, friendships, or even civil or community responsiblities past the time that we enjoy doing them. Accountiblity on this topic is at an all time low. Probably because many of us seem to be so bad at it that we really don’t want to call ourselves out too.
What’s the solution?
All I know is that somedays you just have to set your mind to the tasks and committments at hand. And stick to them knowing that what you are doing is (even if you don’t like it all the time) is treating your fellow human brothers and sisters with respect.
And, if you find that you cannot consistently keep up with a commitment you have made- let the person who recruited you know you would like to gracefully step down. There is no shame in this. It is being honest.
It is the beginning of a new week. I hope that all of us find ways to “stick with it” for whatever your “it” is in the coming days. And, I would ask that you’d continue to hold your leaders, like me, accountable for doing what we said we’d do. I think this type of accountablity is living into the “excellence” that Paul asked long ago of the early church.