Parties are sometimes the result of long and detailed planning. They involve decorations, music, food, and formal invitations.
Sometimes, though, parties break out in an all-of-a-sudden kind of way when somebody notices that there is reason to celebrate—right now!
You might think of the Scriptures as one huge invitation to God’s party. See if you can’t find a good reason—right now—to join the celebration.next >
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:32–36next >
I’ve been hurt. Excluded. Ignored. Teased. It’s no party; it made me angry. We seem to be wired to respond to our enemies with anger and hatred, to let them take over our thoughts. In quiet under my breath, I would curse my enemies. That quiet breath belied a giant yell inside that echoed throughout my soul. Hanging on to anger and hatred can bind us to others’ hurtful actions, weigh us down, and keep us from healing.
Jesus invites us to respond differently—love your enemies. It’s hard. Jesus isn’t telling you to put yourself in harm’s way. He’s saying choose love. Begin by loving yourself enough to say, “God loves me, and I am worthy.” The noise and weight of hatred will be lifted. And then you can begin to love your enemies by praying God will replace their hatred with love, forgiving them, and, when possible, responding with kindness.
Jenifer Gambernext >
Be with those today who are bullied. Protect their hearts from hatred and anger. Soften the hearts of those who hurt others. Embolden students to stand up to the bullies and say, “Stop.” Amen.next >
It takes at least two to celebrate;
But, you know, the more the merrier!
God has made all the preparations
And now awaits your response.
Why not join all the many others
Who have also joined the party?
It’s the best celebration ever!
A lifelong Episcopalian, Jenifer Gamber is a volunteer educator at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is co-author of Call on Me: A Prayerbook for Young People. She serves on the board of Forma, writes for buildfaith.org, leads retreats, and speaks nationally about issues related to youth in the church.
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