Jesus shows how different this kingdom of heaven is to all the kingdoms of Earth, with the kind of people he welcomes into it. Levi’s home hosts a celebration of all the unlikely people who find themselves named and included in God’s new realm. These are the people called ‘sinners,’ who were accruing sin at such a rate that no sacrifice could deal with it quickly enough. Jesus cuts through all that, and takes a seat at the table alongside them all. They belong. They are included. And they are changed by this encounter.
Jesus comes to us as we are, but in that meeting we do not stay the same. Jesus calls the ‘beautiful you’ out of the shell of the ugly, and in that welcome, through that welcome, the ‘beautiful you’ Jesus calls emerges. St Augustine said, “God loves us, and that makes us lovely.”
This way of prayer can be used as a prayer of confession or a prayer of intercession. The printed invitation can read, ‘Jesus welcomes the beautiful you to his table’ and invite people to write their name and tick ‘RSVP’, if you are using it as a prayer of confession, or to write the name of someone else, or a group of people whom we long to see find belonging in Jesus’s new world, if you are using it as a prayer of intercession.