29 August 2013

God Pause for Thursday, 29 August 2013

Thursday:  Luke 14.1, 7-14
“On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely…  7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.  8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited him, “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. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.””
I don’t know about you, but when we invite people to our home, we usually have an idea about where everyone’s going to sit.  It’s our house, after all, and usually the invitation is in celebration of someone or something that’s going to have the place of honor.  Maybe it was different in Jesus’ time, but I figure the guests sorting themselves out has always been a serious breach in etiquette.  Part of the pleasure of providing hospitality is honoring one’s friends, neighbors and beloved guests:  it just won’t do to have them squabbling over the choice seats.

Notice, however that Jesus doesn’t reorder the seating arrangements.  It’s not his place.  He’s not the host.  It’s a parable:  a story told alongside reality.  Here the seating is unimportant.  In the kingdom of heaven, God IS the host, and we the guests:  time to stop fighting over who gets to sit at the head of the table.

Merciful God, forgive us when we fight for what is not ours to determine.  Have mercy on us when we bicker over our place in your world.  It is enough to be in your banquet hall:  humble us, and help us to enjoy the feast of love and grace you offer.  Amen.

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