What struck me about Eric’s sermon last Sunday was the Tony Campolo story he told. I’ve heard this story several times before – of how Pastor Campolo once threw a surprise birthday party for a prostitute called Agnus at a late night diner in Honolulu.
Again, I was struck by how enabled folks were in the story by God’s grace – Campolo who has the inspiration, the owner who baked the cake, the owner’s wife who decorated the diner, the prostitutes who knew and loved agnus and who made sure the place was packed when Agnus walked in.
However, what struck me most this time was Agnus’ reaction. Instead of cutting the cake, Agnus took it home – two doors down – to show her mother, who was not at the party. Why was she not at the party? Perhaps she was old or infirm. Perhaps she was drunk. Perhaps no one thought to invite her. Perhaps she was simply asleep!
Whatever the case, Agnus’ reaction illustrates something found in many biblical stories and something that I’ve experienced in life: that people who have been reached out to, in turn reach out themselves.
Agnus’ reaction is stereotypically Holy Spirit! I’ve been helped, I’m gonna help; I’ve been forgiven, I’m gonna forgive; I’ve been invited, so I’m going to invite. Agnus’ reaction is essentially evangelistic – she has experienced the good news – through the actions of others – and she wants to share it with others still.
We talk a lot at Servant Church about inviting, demonstrating and becoming. Agnus was invited, her peers demonstrated and her response was to become – to become a passer-on, to involve those left out – no matter if they are weak, drunk, uninvited or asleep.