Proper 17C (OT22)
339: September 1, 2019
182: August 28, 2016
For reference: Luke 14: 2-6 - questions about healing or acts of grace on the Sabbath
“Table Talk” includes four messages. Jesus is at the house of a “leader of the Pharisees,” who were “watching him closely.”
Lectionary this week includes middle two:
Healing on the Sabbath
Lesson for Guests - sit at the lowest place
Lesson for Hosts - invite people that cannot repay you
Parable of the great dinner - People make excuses to not come, so the poor, crippled, blind, and lame are invited
This is not about manners or etiquette. The Table Talk is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God.
The Table is the place where intimacy happens, relationships happen.
It can be argued that Jesus did not birth a church, but birthed a table.
Lesson for Guests
Sit at the lowest place of honor, so that you may be invited to come to a greater position.
“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Proverbs 25:6-7
Is there anything more frustrating than false humility, or the “humble brag?”
Instructions are not about a way to manipulate yourself to a better seat.
Jesus is calling for sincere humility, not strategizing.
“Jesus does not offer a divinely approved way for a person to get what he or she wants. Taking the low seat because one is humble is one thing; taking the low seat as a way to move up is another. This message becomes a cartoon if there is a mad, competitive rush for the lowest place, with ears cocked toward the host, waiting for the call to ascend.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation:Luke).
Humility is not about devaluing self. It is about denying man-made status, and embrace equality of the other.
Humility was a counter-cultural concept. “His exhortation is to pursue humility, a concept with significant status connotations. Humility was very rarely considered a virtue in Greco-Roman moral discourse. Yet, humility is to mark the followers of Jesus” (Jeannine Brown, The Working Preacher)
Today, humility is often a lip-service virtue. People talk about humility as a virtue, but those who are exalted are usually not truly humble.
Humility is about an awareness of others (beyond yourself)
It is not denying your own power or ability or prestige, but acknowledging that others have equal power, ability and prestige and not assuming yours is more than others.
The assumption of position lies at the heart of patriarchy, white supremacy and heternormity
Lesson for Hosts
This is a much more blatantly counter-cultural message, disrupting the very social order, not just patterns of behavior.
Quid pro quo - the exchange of one good or service for another - is an inherently Roman idea, and is the basis of patronage system. Inviting people who “could give nothing in return” is in direct opposition to the system of patronage where the only reason anyone did anything was for something in return.
Jesus is calling for “Kingdom behavior,” where love is given with nothing is returned.
Lesson is emphasized with next parable, where the master invites the poor, crippled, and lame.
Vast implications for Church in its mission to participate in radical hospitality. Do we need to rethink Soup kitchens, food pantries, and other “hunger missions.”
“Hospitality, then, is not having each other over on Friday evenings but welcoming those who are in no position to host us in return. Nor does the text speak of sending food to anyone; rather, the host and the guest sit at table together. The clear sign of acceptance, of recognizing others as one’s equals, of cementing fellowship, is breaking bread together.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation:Luke)
Thoughts and Questions
How much does your church practice table sharing? Not always around program, but simply sharing a meal together? What might that look like?
Does your community offer open meals? If not- why not? How might it change your community to offer an open meal?
How might we invite others into a life of bold humility which acknowledges our gifts, abilities and power, yet doesn’t assume those gifts, abilities and power place us higher than others. Can we own who we are without placing ourselves above others?
Last Sunday of Hebrews :(
Philemon for a week before we head into 1 Timothy!
Mutual love as the framework of the passage
what is mutual love?
hospitality to strangers
“The admonition ‘not to neglect hospitality to strangers’ sounds a bit grudging to modern ears, in which a more positive formulation would be welcome. Rhetorically however, the saying function to emphasize the importance of hospitality. In other words, not to neglect hospitality is to make certain that it is carried out.” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 492)
compassion to prisoners
“Prisoners had tmo depend on those outside for food beyond basic prison rations, for clothing and other items; guards sometimes required bribes even to grant this much access. Prisons detained people until trial or execution, but prisoners could remain in custody for long periods of time until trial.” (NRSV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, notes p. 2180)
Expansive view of love that begins with family but must extend beyond into community
For love to be mutual- it must happen in community
Church is the community of mutual love
Mutual love is the foundation of “doing good and sharing what you have”
Mutual love is the foundation of being in relationship with God that we can confidently confess: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
Worship as a sacrifice of praise to God
Worship needs to be transformative- we need to be willing to be transformed by the spirit
we become like what we worship
transformative worship melts us down - it is up to us what mold we will be poured into: the world? or the kingdom of God?
Fellowship - let mutual love continue
Ministry stems from worship and fellowship
“Worship that does not melt the soul and lead to deepened relationships with fellow servants of our Lord becomes a fussy curatorship of moribund customs. It becomes a cause of strife and contentiousness rather than a fresh way of addressing our love to God. Fellowship that does not grow out of spirited worship and point into courageous ministry becomes boozy, gossipy, and, as this passage warns, potentially adulterous. Cliques in a congregation are fine, provided they are nexuses of positive energy, but disconnected from worship or ministry, they are a circle of wagons on the congregation's prairie. Ministry that does not grow out of worship-forged friendships becomes proprietary and sour, something to fight others about, rather than something to offer to them. If the payoff for ministry is not the love of God and your fellow ministers, it will decay into prestige maintenance.” Gray Temple, Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).
Thoughts and Questions
What does mutual love look like in the face of the general divisiveness of current culture? How do we promote and practice mutual love with those whom we greatly disagree?
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.