Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” He came.Mark 2:13-17 (MSG)
Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the misfits?”
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
Tomorrow is our celebration of Thanksgiving, and today I’m drawn to the tables Jesus gathered around to give thanks. There’s Levi, the dreaded tax collector, heart changed. There’s Mary Magdalene, the former prostitute, heart changed. There’s Peter and Andrew, lowly fishermen, hearts changed.
And standing on the precipice of the meal are the church leaders, scoffing at the company Jesus keeps. Hearts unchanged.
The question I’m entertaining today is where I stand. Am I sitting with Jesus and his band of misfits? Am I able to love abundantly, extend mercy, laugh uproariously and prove that God has found even the least of these worthy?
Or do I hover in doorways, eyeing Jesus and the humble ones who have become his unlikely followers, shocked and outraged that he would hang out with such as these? Am I one who holds a clipboard at the entrance to the meal? You can’t come in. You don’t meet my requirements for love.
Thanksgiving is a table we gather around with family and friends, some we disagree with, some who don’t share the same values as we do, some we haven’t seen in a year, maybe two. Which spirit will you bring to that table this year, the spirit of light, or the spirit of darkness? The spirit of mercy, or the spirit of judgment? A spirit of love, or a spirit of hate?
Points of Reflection
- Who is invited to gather around your table? Who is left out? Where does Jesus stand amidst those two groups?
- What are you looking forward to this Thanksgiving? What are you dreading? Surrender your fears about this holiday over to God, and ask him to prepare your heart for grace and love.
For the Kids
- Who are the misfits in our world?
- Who does Jesus choose to eat with, the misfits, or the church leaders?
- Based on this story, what are ways you can “dine with misfits”?
Is there someone in your circle that may not have a home to go to this Thanksgiving? Consider inviting them along to your meal. What a blessing you can be to a lonely person on this holiday of friends and family!
If you love food, faith, and family (and who can pass up this combo??), pick up a copy of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread & Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.
Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon.com or through a local independent bookstore near you.