Invite. It’s the second of my three words this year. (The first is Kingdom).
For several years, I’ve talked about the difference between inviting and announcing. In church settings, as in other group settings, there are announcements. We tell people about events that are coming. And then we get frustrated when they don’t come.
I know that at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was proclaiming the kingdom was at hand. That feels like announcing. And it was. And it’s what Jesus did sometimes. He talked to large crowds. He told stories that made people smile because they seemed to be attacking the religious leaders.
But sometimes people just didn’t get them. The stories. Sometimes people heard them and had no idea what he meant.
Jesus said, “I do that on purpose.” He said that to his closest followers. They were invited by him to understand and learn and follow closely.
Remember how Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum? (I talked about it last week). And how he started preaching there?
He also had some quieter conversations in Capernaum. Over the course of weeks, he invited a dozen people to be his close associates, his disciples. There were many who attended the events, but he picked a handful. He worked with them. He invited them to follow and then continued to invite them to come, to go, to help.
I’m realizing that I need to learn how to invite more. I need to learn the art of the offer, the humble confidence that says, “I know this. I can teach you this. Why don’t you learn with me?”
Or the open table that says, “We would love to eat with you, to break bread together. We do it because Jesus did it, with large groups and small. And if he can serve a betrayer, I need to at least welcome friends.”
I’m not sure what inviting is going to mean this year. Particularly since we don’t know where we are going to be this year. But I think that the power of the invitation is really compelling.
Jesus invited people to follow him, without having any particular place to be, other than with him. I mean, he said, “Foxes have homes. I don’t.” But still, he invited people on the journey. Because for Jesus the journey was about not being wedded to places. It was about him.