Christmas: A Live Invitation to God’s Grand Banquet

The Gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday before Christmas, Luke 14:16-24, is the Parable of Jesus which has a master inviting many to a great dinner which he has prepared for them.  Though the original invitees choose to refuse his invitation, the Gospel has the man reaching out to more, different and even undesirable people to come to his dinner party.  The Gospel is very inviting and welcoming – it is not the man who offers the dinner who excludes anyone, but it is those who receive the invitation who choose to refuse to attend the dinner.   This parable Christ tells about His annefieldKingdom and about His Church.   Anne Field in her book, From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, writes this:

My brothers and sisters, I want to begin today by talking about the free gift God is offering His people. Each of you knows what sort of person he is, and what sort of life he lived in the past. When the Lord called you it was not to settle a score against you, not to bring you to account for your sins. It was to save you, to forgive you, to offer you new life. In the    Gospel Jesus Himself calls out to the whole human race: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke on your shoulders and learn to imitate Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; then you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28,29).  What an invitation! Come to Me, all of you! Not just the powerful, the affluent, the educated, the strong, the healthy, the respectable; but also the weak, the poor, the underprivileged, the sick, the blind, the lame, the disabled, the hopeless, the abandoned. The Master makes no distinction       between any of you; the good news is for everyone. Come to Me, He says, all you who toil and groan under your burdens. He is interested especially in those who have squandered their lives, who are weighed down by their sins, who are filled with shame and no longer have self-respect. These are the ones He calls to Himself, not to punish them, but to comfort their sorrows and ease their heavy load.

Christmas: We are Born of God

“And so, my brothers, the feast of the Nativity of Christ reminds us that we are born of God, that we are kronstadtsons of God (1 John 3:1), that we have been saved from sin (Matthew 1:21) and that we must live for God and not sin; not for flesh and blood, not for the world which lies in evil (1 John 5:19).  What does the Incarnation of the Son of God require of us?  It requires of us to remember and hold in sacred honor the fact that we are born of God; and if we have sullied and trampled upon this birthright with our sins, we must restore it by washing it with tears of repentance; we must restore and renew within us the image of God which has fallen and the union with God and blessedness, truth and holiness which has been destroyed.  ‘Now God became man, that He may make Adam a god.'”  (St. John of Kronstadt

Nairobi National Park (December 1978)



On 15 December 1978 while serving as a missionary in Kenya, I did the only “touristy” event of my 6 months in Kenya, I went on a safari to Nairobi National Park.  We hired a driver to take us through the Park to see what animals we could find.  This is what I wrote in my journal that day:

“Got up at 5:30am this morning to get ready for  our ‘safari’ to Nairobi National Park.  … There was something festive about this morning – I really felt excited, almost like a child on Christmas morning.  It also reminded me of being a child and going on vacation – my father always started the trip very early in the morning, long before the sun rose.  (The first photo is a Kenyan scene – the animals in the photo are domesticated cows).

animalsThe trip to Nairobi Park was wonderful.  It involved a 3 hour car ride through the game preserve where you can see a wide variety of African game in their natural environment – which is generally flat grasslands with scattered trees and occasional  gentle hills and valleys.  I felt real relaxed.  It took a little while to get used to looking for the game –  you had to pay close attention and really focus your eyes sometimes to spot the rhinos or gazelles, or birds, but they sometimes they would be all around you.  The sun was a blazing brightness to add to the beautiful day. (Photo: our driver is silohueted to the right, outside the car a Grant Gazelle)

We even were able to walk on a nature trail for about 40 minutes – along a river where we spotted hippo tracks in the animals3mud – startling large foot prints!   We saw momentarily a hippo who quickly disappeared beneath the muddy river water.  It really felt like being on a safari in a wilderness area of Africa – there were no other humans around.  We could see different animals around us and also their markings as we walked through the thigh high grass and listened to the sounds of the savannah under the blistering sun. 


I thought for a moment that maybe this is what it was like to have walked in the Garden of Eden before the Fall – experiencing a perfectly harmonious ecosystem of God.  It was humbling and peaceful to me despite knowing there were predators hiding somewhere in those same grasses.  Psalm 104 kept floating through my mind – .   It has to be one of the best experiences I’ve had since coming to Kenya and surely will be one of the greatest memories.

(In the photo:  Elands?)



The harmony of the land today – of nature itself, reminded me of something that happened a few days ago while I was animals2sitting in the village of Muguga.  Several military plans passed overhead, flying very low to the ground – the noise, disharmony and disruption they caused in the village was incredible – terrifying.  Having grown up with technology all around me, I had never felt as I did that day – some of our mechanical inventions are terrifying! ”

(Photo:  Hartebeest)

The photos were all taken from the window of our hired car.