Thursday, January 6, 2011

Even Judas?...

(photo from
I have a good friend and colleague serving a church around Memphis. He is a fellow "outside the box" kind of guy. Actually, that's probably putting it mildly, but he's a mentor to me. We've had several conversations over the past 6 months because I feel led to do some of the same things he's doing. He's already cautioned me once to be ware the company I keep because hanging with him could get me into trouble, but that's ok.

I stopped by the church he serves one day this past summer to check the place out. It's different, to say the least. Everything they do there is different, right down to the invitation to the table.

You see, in the United Methodist Church, we have an open Communion Table, which simply means that anyone is welcome at the table. We don't turn folks away from Jesus' feast. As my friend and I were talking about the ministries that take place in that holy place, and how they do some of what they do, he told me that their Communion liturgy is, let's say, a little more interactive than some.

As he extends the invitation on Christ's behalf, he says something like this, "...and who is welcome at this table?" To which his folks reply, "Everyone." Then he asks, "Even Judas?" And the folks reply, "Even Judas."

Now, if you're familiar at all with the gospels, you'll know who Judas was, or at least who this Judas was. If you're familiar with Luke 6, you'll know exactly how Luke felt about this Judas. In the list of disciples called out to become apostles, Judas is listed right there with them, but with a tagline..."...and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor."

Ouch. That is why what my friend does on behalf of Christ is so important...even Judas. You see, his flock is not your usual flock. In fact, he even told me once that he and they belong to a group of folks who are a grateful recovering tribe of knotheads, hotheads, potheads, sots, assorted nuts, and (others who are in denial). I love that. I mean, after all, aren't we all recovering from some things and probably in denial about others? Yet, at that table, there is even a place for us.

Judas was given a bad rap, like most folks we want to exclude. I believe that Judas never intended to get Christ killed, only to force his hand a little. In fact, I kind of feel bad for the guy. He was looking for a messiah that would come in, force Rome's army out of the area, and bring freedom back to Israel. Jesus was a lot more concerned with feeding people and healing them. What's up with that?

But even Judas can be forgiven, and I believe was. When Jesus was being nailed down and said, "Forgive them for they don't know what they're doing," I don't remember reading that he said, "Forgive them...well, except for Judas."

Now, I'm hoping that all of us can find ourselves in this story somewhere. Either we are the one who thinks we are unworthy of forgiveness and will not come to that table of grace, or we are the ones looking down on those who won't come because we are holding something against them. Either way, this is a new year, full of new beginnings, let this be one of them.


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