John C. Nugent
September 29, 2013
In NYC where I live, I recently found that it's considered routine (and definitely shameful if you ask caterers not to do this), for the caterers to prepare more food than a certain party could possibly need, typically in the neighborhood of 10-15%. There's a social expectation that you'll essentially tithe on the food and give the leftovers to area homeless shelters. And of course if the event is canceled it's typical for most people to give it all to charity. So the fact that someone might have a wedding fall through and choose to go ahead with the feast but give the food to the poor wasn't exactly news to me. What did surprise me (and make me smile) was that they went ahead and held the feast. Rather than just giving the food away they gave the homeless the chance to (I can only hope) get cleaned up, go somewhere new, and be a bit pampered.
So three cheers for them! This is an inspiring story. But even as I read it, I find myself hesitating just a bit to draw a full parallel with Jesus's parables. Because this feast was not intended for the poor, really, and it's a bit depressing how out of the ordinary it seems to treat the poor and the stranger like this. The truly Christian example seems like it would require something much more radical: rather than having a feast for our relatives after our wedding, we should be planning our wedding feasts to include the poor, maybe even plan to give them a nice meal <i>instead</i> of our honored guests.
Don't get me wrong, I am as impressed by the Fowlers as everyone. But I am also impressed how radically countercultural true Christianity should be. Much more than this work-in-progress can manage. Thank God for grace!
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