"From the Pulpit" - August 28, 2022 - Reflections on the Weekly Texts from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church
Luke 14:1, 7-14
1 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. 7 When 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; 9 and 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. 10 But 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. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 He 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. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.
Hospitality. Welcoming. Accepting. Big words in the Christian vocabulary. And yet, how welcoming are we really? This is the question Jesus asks in this parable for Sunday. In my message for Sunday, I'm going to share a story about a friend/colleague of mine, and his "call process" to his first congregation after seminary. He tested the hospitality of the congregation in a most unexpected way, risking his receiving this call. He's not the first person to do what he did, and I think you'll be amazed at how it turned out for him and the congregation.
Nonetheless, we call ourselves welcoming, hospitable and such. But are we really? Jesus again challenges the conventions and rituals of his day by making the temple leadership face some hard truths about who they invite to their meals, where folks sit, and the like. But his challenge is more than just where folks sit at a meal - it's about who's welcome in the first place. About who has the power and who doesn't. The reference here in Luke's gospel to a "wedding banquet" is a clear reference to the great eschatalogical, heavenly banquet - that feast to come, when all the saints gather feet of Christ himself. It's about the heavenly realm and all who are gathered at this banquet in heaven. And at that banquet, all will be welcomed.
I'll refer, interestingly enough, to the birth of Jesus himself, in Luke's account, where Joe and Mary are in Bethlehem, seeking a place to stay where Jesus can be delivered. And I'm going to challenge us to hear this birth story in a completely different way this Sunday. We've heard the texts all our lives say "...since there was no room for them at the inn." But there is a translation that says..."there was no place for them..." Does that sound different? One maybe says that the hotels were full - the No Vacancy signs were out, flashing their big bright red lights. But to say there "was no place for them" might mean something different entirely.
Maybe, just maybe, this family about to give birth to a savior, a king who was coming to upset the world order, was in fact, not welcome in that place. Or any place for that matter. The ones in power, having heard of the arrival of this Messiah, may not have welcomed this Holy One. There just was no place for him in their current world, where the people with the power were comfortable in their place in life. There was no place for a new Savior, where Caesar reigned and so the world, as we now know, was inhospitable toward this new Savior. Jesus, his whole life, from the time he was born - even before he was born, knew about exclusion. About being excluded. Left out. Unwelcomed. This was the world into which he was born, and into which he came to turn things upside down. Think about that the next time you hear the famous birth narrative of Luke read. Amen!
1. Adira Ryan joins us this Sunday as our new Minister of Music - Join us this Sunday as we welcome Adria. She brings nearly 30 years of leadership in church music/choirs, and the like. She's passionate about church music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She's profficient on the keyboard, the organ, and the piano, and has an amazing voice as well. We'll formally install her on Sunday, September 25th during worship.
2. Eve Van Buren Joins Us for Worship, Sunday, September 11th - Come and hear noted harpist Eve Van Buren as she brings her talents to worship on 9/11. She's a very popular, and in-demand musician in our area. We're glad that we were again able to secure a date with her. Proceeds from a free will offering will go to Lutheran Charities.
"Gather Us In"
"All are Welcome"