[Uucf-bible] like to champion a book, film, etc?
Leigh Anne Petersen
winddancer1981 at ymail.com
Wed Jan 19 11:34:01 EST 2011
This may not be what you are looking for in bible passage thoughts, but since I
identify a lot with Matthew as an outcast who joined Jesus, my favorite bible
passage is the one where Jesus comes to eat with Matthew in Matthew Chapter 9.
The below is simply a concept of what might have been going through Matthew's
head as he prepared for the feast with Jesus that I wrote sometime ago.
by Leigh Anne Petersen
The banquet tables are set. Every table and mat he could find has been
pressed into service for this momentous feast. Food of every kind has been
ordered from the street merchants and will soon arrive to be placed on the
tables. He paid dearly to ensure the quality of the food. But who to invite?
Most of the respectable people in town would never be seen eating with him.
Many even curse him under their breath for his dealings with Rome. Asking them
would be a waste of time at this point, since they wouldn’t come anyway. And
now, time is at a premium since Jesus will soon be here.
He paces the room thinking of his guests… who should they be? Most of his
friends are not even close to being “proper society”. His internal laugh
carries a hint of sarcasm, as he considers the fact that many in his club of
outcasts would literally be stoned if they even tried to enter the holy space
of the Temple. Cut off from the religious gatherings of their people by their
trade or lifestyle, they have had little chance to experience religious life.
(Or to be contaminated by it, might be a better phrase.)
His hand slaps upon a table sounding the fact that he has made his decision.
As he dons his cloak he heads not for the “good” side of town, but for the
places where the prostitutes roam. He knows where they are, for outcasts often
need each other for comfort. One by one he invites them to his feast…a feast
with the Rabbi. Fearfully, some try to beg off, “Eat with a Rabbi? I
couldn’t!” But he insists and promises them safety and hospitality. And
reluctantly they agree to come…for him.
Finally, he enters the guild of the tax collectors. It is filled with wealthy,
powerful men, hated by their own people for their collusion with Rome. How
often had this hatred by the people driven them to vengefully cheat the people
even more? How often had it driven them into the arms of the women he just
invited? It should be an interesting meal.
Back at the house he readies the food as it comes, the tables now groan with
the weight of the banquet meal and he smiles as he thinks of the response some
of the delicacies he ordered will get. One by one the guests he invited
arrive. Some smiling or sharing embarrassed looks with one another. But
Matthew encourages them all to recline at the table and relax…tonight will be
for them. He will make sure they get the loving hospitality they deserve.
Then the door is framed by an impressive figure, the body of a carpenter whose
shoulders are wide enough to bear great beams of wood. How strong and sturdy
Jesus is! Matthew just grins and shakes his head at the sight of this powerful
Rabbi, no pale scholar here! Jesus breaks the Rabbi mold in so many ways!
As he prepares to greet Jesus, Matthew notices an unusual trembling in his
hand, he feels almost like a schoolboy in the presence of a great teacher, a
great, loving, teacher. Somehow the presence of Jesus, brings out an almost
childlike innocence and hope in him. Innocence? He shakes his head in
bewilderment and then greets Jesus and his disciples.
He leads them to the head table and wonders how to introduce Jesus to such a
crowd, but Jesus never gives him the chance. One by one he greets Matthew’s
guests as if he has known them all along. A rabbi greeting and touching the
unclean and outcast? His intimacy with them surprises some and embarrasses
others. But they accept his touches and kisses with sighs of ….relief, joy,
what? Matthew watches in wonder at the effect Jesus has on his fellow
outcasts. They seem to look at Jesus with eyes that are almost hungry….
panting for something.
Jesus takes his place at the head of the table, and he raises the cup and prays
a blessing for the God who loves them all. Many of the guests seem to have
forgotten the food is even on the table, having eyes only for Jesus. Jesus
looks at them and then laughs, encouraging them to eat the feast Matthew has
The feast within the feast however, is even better than the food Matthew
provided. Jesus shares stories of about a prodigal son, a missing lamb and a
lost coin. And somehow, the hearts of everyone present all know that they are
the child, the lamb and the coin worth searching for. Many weep openly at this
sense of being found so “worthy” and precious.
But then, in the midst of all this love, uninvited intruders appear at the
door. The local religious militias have come to harass his beloved guests.
Matthew rises to confront them, but Jesus places a restraining hand on his
shoulder and shakes his head. Instead Jesus himself rises to protect those
sitting at the table with him. Looking at the religious leaders squarely, he
lets them know that he has come to heal these people and will not have them
harassed. The group of outcasts watch in wonder as a Rabbi actually defends
them. Mouth dropping open Matthew can do nothing but listen to the one who
As he watches Jesus confound the religious leaders, Matthew also hears words
that shake him to his core. That Jesus may be taken away from him, and his
feasting may end in fasting. At that point Matthew makes his decision final;
he will follow Jesus and leave all this behind. He could pay the women to
housesit for him. They would love all this luxury…. and safety (and the
opportunity to leave their dangerous and demeaning vocations behind.)
From Matthew the tax collector to Matthew the disciple…what a switch! As he
looks around the table, Matthew just chuckles at the types of people Jesus
seemed to attract (and offend)...it was going to be an interesting journey.
Hi all. I am looking for recommendations of either new books you may have
read that touched your soul, or perhaps a spiritual classic you keep
returning to or have just discovered; or perhaps a movie that has captured
important meanings in life for you? Or a television series that has done the
Or is there a spiritual website you might suggest to others?
If you have one, please send it along, and write at least a paragraph
summarizing its content and a paragraph about how and why it moves you.
Also, for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible this year, I would
like to issue a call for you to write something for others in the UUCF
about a specific bible passage that has meant a lot to you.
Thanks. Send the brief book or etc. paragraphs along to me as soon as you
can; they can be about the size of a typical list post here; feel free to
spend more time on the bible passage thoughts and send those to me anytime.
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