Jesus told them, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now." - Matthew 9:14-17
Three religious groups are represented here, each of which viewed time differently: The Pharisees to whom Judaism owes a debt of gratitude looked to the past to preserve it; John's sect, which some think were the Essenes, warned of the coming destruction calling people to repent, fast and be baptized; but Jesus said, "Don't miss this special time right now."
As a kid, I remember coming home one weekday evening to the smell of fried chicken, fried corn, greens, cornbread, candied yams, homemade peach cobbler. Oh my! The best china and silver were stacked on the table. I asked Momma (whom we affectionately called Queen Dorothy behind her back):
"Just us," she said.
"Why the food and fine china?" I asked.
And as only Queen Dorothy could say, "Because we are the most important people to ever sit at this table. . . . Now set the table, boy."
Wow! Momma knew Jesus' sense of "now." Even in those improving but still-troubling times of lynchings, church bombings, riots, marches, student protests, assassinations of our political leaders, my Dad's humiliations as a Black man, and our not being able to live or go just anywhere in town.
That evening, we said grace over an extravagant meal in the spirit of Martin Luther King, who said, "I may not get there with you, but I've been to the mountaintop and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord." Past, present, and future sat at our table that night, and when I remember it, I taste all three . . . . seasoned with Momma's lesson from Jesus: Love the people in your life . . . right now.
Gracious God, thank you for this day and help me to show surprising, extravagant love to those closest to me . . . today. Amen.
Ron Buford is the Pastor of the Congregational Community Church of Sunnyvale, UCC, Sunnyvale, California.