Today I preached on the Luke text from Chapter 14 and it was focused on humility and hospitality. Sometimes the teachings of Jesus seem so simple to me - if I always look at them from the perspective of relational theology. Every time we extend ourselves for the sake of others we do something for them - and something happens to us. We grow spiritually, we deepen in faith and we become more like God created us to be. Relationship is always reciprocal, so it's never a one way interaction. Giving to another isn't just about what I am doing for them, but it's as much what I need to do for ME. It's strange that for years I didn't get this. What I learned mostly was what I needed to do for those "less fortunate" than me. That's an arrogant approach. There is poverty of the rich, just as there is poverty of the poor. There is also arrogance of the poor, just as there is arrogance of the rich. What I know now is that God's call to serve is based on relationship; with God, with others, and with all creation. And relationship is always interactive, and it is always reciprocal. I am not better than anyone else, and no one else is better than me - God's love is equal for all that he created. God doesn't play favorites - I am not special somehow because I live in the United States and I'm a middle class white woman. God loves me - but doesn't love me MORE or LESS than anyone! If you read the gospels you see this everywhere - Jesus is always leveling the ground between social class, race, gender. He's always ushering in the new kingdom where everyone is invited, everyone is loved and everyone is equal. When I see this I wonder why we have such a need to exclude. I wonder why we fight over who is "in" and who is "out" based on anything!! Can you imagine if we simply opened the doors, invited everyone to join, invited everyone to participate, and lived with joy as if God really does love us what an amazing faith community we would be?!