Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

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Devotion: The Wedding Feast

“Then he said to his slaves,‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’” (Matthew 22:8-9, NRSV)

Sarah Cummins had spent over $30,000 on her perfect day before the Indiana woman canceled the wedding. Faced with the reality of a reception contract that could not be canceled, Cummins made the decision to invite the homeless to the wedding feast. 

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Devotion: Unexpected Grace

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2, NIV)

Food is essential to the nourishment of our bodies.

One of the things that is often overlooked is how much it costs to eat healthy. In areas known as “food deserts,” places where there are no grocery stores or farmer’s markets, there is certain to be a McDonald’s or Hardee’s. In places where food is needed, it is usually found cheap and unhealthy. 

In the meantime, others run the risk of living beyond abundance. Instead of sharing resources, they take more than their share. Instead of giving, they waste. Instead of being faithful stewards, they are greedy and unjust. 

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Devotion: The Potluck

“And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.” (Matthew 14:20, NRSV)

The church potluck was a vital part of my faith formation. The body of Christ gathering together in fellowship, making connections across the tables. All the while wondering, “Will there be enough food?”

There were no RSVPs or sign ups. Everyone who came brought a dish. It may have been a new receipe they were trying out, or it was a well-known receipe. At our house it was always my mom’s potatoe salad. If she didn’t make it, people wondered where it was.

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Devotion: Interrupted

“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13-14, NRSV)

When I was a kid I would drop by my grandparents’ home unannounced. I imagine at times they found it annoying, to say the least. The interruption was never seen as such. Or at least, it never felt like it. No matter what they were doing, they welcomed it.

Even into young adulthood when I would still drop by unannounced, there was always room at their table. It would not be uncommon for other family members to unexpectedly drop by. As more gathered around the table, conversation flowed freely, along with the coffee and tea.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
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Guest Post: Good Friday

A few years ago my friend and colleague Rev. Alan Combs wrote this blog post for Good Friday. I reshare it today. Alan is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church serving in the Virginia Conference.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

These words come at the beginning of Psalm 22. Immediately, the biblical scholar-wannabe in me asks a biblical scholar-wannabe question. How much of Psalm 22 did Jesus mean? Psalm 22 forms two distinct parts. The first eighteen verses or so are full of pain, oppression, and despair. They feel very much like what Jesus might have had in mind while hanging on the cross, blood pouring from his nailed hands and feet, struggling to breathe.

But then Psalm 22 changes at verse twenty-five. “From you comes my praise in the great congregation,” the Psalmist declares. The Psalm shifts to a prayer of deliverance. Yes many “strong bulls of Bashan” (I want to start a band called “Strong Bulls of Bashan) surround the Psalmist (22.12), and yes “I can count all my bones,” (22.17) but at the end of the day “dominion belongs to the Lord,” (22.18) so much so, that “All who go down to the dust shall bow before the Lord, and I shall live for God” (22.28).

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