The Kingdom of God is a party
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’” ~ Luke 14:1,7-24
Here is one of those rare places where the Kingdom of God is related to the afterlife.
Although note that that isn't really what Jesus is doing here. Yes, he talks about those who help the poor, the blind, the lame, etc. being repaid at the resurrection.
He doesn't, however, say that the resurrection IS the Kingdom of God. Instead, one of the guests takes Jesus' talk of the resurrection and uses it as a way to connect to the Kingdom of God.
And then what does Jesus do?
He goes into a parable. A parable about a very earthly type of banquet. One, perhaps, not completely dissimilar (although certainly grander) than the meal at which he and his companions were eating. So in the parable he brings everything back to the here and the now. He describes what the Kingdom of God is like, rather than giving it a chronological time.
And what is it like?
A dinner party where you invite only the outsiders.
I'm not sure about you, but I think about every dinner or party I've ever planned and all the stress that went into the invitation list.
And who did I leave out?
Who do we leave out in the images we have of God's Kingdom?
Who's in? Who's out?
Lord help me to throw open the doors to the party you are hosting to invite in those whom everyone else might forget. Amen.