I can't stop thinking about these ideas of relationship, yeast, and partying with the tax collectors.
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I'm trying to live this out and I'm finding out the "sinners" sometimes act like the church, and the church sometimes acts like "sinners." I don't feel like I've compromised who I am but certainly some of the gatherings I've attended lately have been culturally awkward as I still outgrow some of the sheltered pharisee like upbringing I received.
Recently I went to a largely hispanic birthday party. My kid who has been to parties with pinatas before, was visually bothered that we were beating the crap out of Buzz Light year. Largely this three year old's party was a little excessive (plenty of booze, food, drinks, jumper, water slide, pool, etc). They say you'll never take away the fiesta or the siesta, huh? Largely I felt honored to be there, one of the palest faces there I was made to feel like family and my kids were treated like all the other mijos and mijas.
A couple of fridays ago I went to my first guys poker night. Seven guys. Five I'd never met. Again plenty of booze, playing cards, and talk that some might describe as unwholesome. Really cool poker table, actual clay chips and authentic cards from a real casino. We also had shelled peanuts, pork rhines, and generic oatmeal creme pies. Nobody got drunk, nobody got angry, and no one became addicted to a slippery slope of gambling. I left feeling rested, relaxed, and again somewhat honored to be invited to participate in this round table.
Last Saturday I attended a 7:00AM bar-bq that included (again plenty of booze) brats, grilled chicken, and an orange watermelon. I know it sounds early for a bud lite, but this is pretty acceptable for a bunch of teamsters who had just worked all night. I was amazed at how thankful folks were that I had hung out for awhile. It literally cost me nothing but time. I enjoyed some great grilled meat, a very delicous inbred fruit, and several mt dews and my employees were saying "thank you. thank you. thank you."
In all fairness, I did very little preaching at any of these events. To my knowledge no one became "saved". Yet, I can't shake the calling that our generation needs some new prophets; That our culture is desperate to be influenced by God's Kingdom; That God is raising up the church and preparing her to be a voice of prophecy in our pluralistic post modern age; And that these kind of gatherings are exactly where an optimistic church planter should be hang'n out.