September 2, 2019
Scripture Luke 14:1, 7-14
“When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”
Luke 14:12b-13 NRSV
In our scripture lesson, Jesus takes the placing of the seating order at a banquet, which he is attending, and turns it into a teaching moment. He tells the host that he should watch what he is doing, or he is going to insult someone. Not only that, it would be awkward and pretty impolite to start changing the seating order. More importantly for them and for us, Jesus begins to expand this into one of the core portions of the Gospel message. Those who want recognition, promoting themselves over others, are in for a big surprise. Because, the least important person is the most important in the ultimate banquet, the Feast of Heaven, where the order of seating and all the arrangements, essentially judgement itself, are made by Almighty God.
Jesus tells us plainly that when we try to increase our own value or “pump up” ourselves, as we say, we actually are disappointing God. Instead of increasing our stature, we come in on the lowest rung before God, who is all-knowing. Because of that, God knows that we are in a precarious and somewhat slippery position when it comes to our faith: We are not acting out what we say that we believe! And, worse than that God is comparing our behavior to the expectations God holds for us. What might those be? Here in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that it is taking care of others.
Our scripture today reminds us that we are closer to Christ’s example when we discover genuine humility as mainstay. Then, our worth is not measured by recognition from those whom we know, but by the certainty that God has accepted us just as we are! Even more remarkably, we arrive at this position, not because of our merit or accomplishments, but through Christ’s sacrifice, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. In this understanding, we are able to look at the world and our position in a new, helpful, and hopeful light:
A light that cannot be hid and that can never be extinguished.