Readings, Notes and Prayers, 2 September, 2001
22nd in Ordinary Time, Year C, Green
Opening Verse of Scripture, Hebrews Chapter 13:15
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise梩he fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Collect Prayer for the Day-Before we read we pray
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
First Bible Reading, Jeremiah Chapter 2:4-13
Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, all you clans of the house of Israel. This is what the LORD says: "What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, 'Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?' I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, 'Where is the LORD?' Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols. "Therefore I bring charges against you again," declares the LORD. "And I will bring charges against your children's children. Cross over to the coasts of Kittim and look, send to Kedar and observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this: Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their Glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror," declares the LORD. "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (This is the word of the Lord?b>Thanks be to God)
Second Bible Reading, Luke Chapter 14:1, 7-14
One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (This is the Gospel of Christ - Praise to Christ our Lord)
Post Communion Prayer
God of all mercy, in this eucharist you have set aside our sins and given us your healing: grant that we who are made whole in Christ may bring that healing to this broken world, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The passage from Luke today appears at first glance to read like something we find on the back of a lifestyle section from a Sunday newspaper. Jesus reads like an early John Morgan giving the kind of advice which we would discover in Debretts guide to manners. So what is Jesus saying in the story from Luke today? Is he really speaking about our strategy for eating at tables? The implication of the teaching appears to be that when we are invited to a dinner, if we want to impress, we should not seek out the best place. If we want to look good, impress our friends and enjoy the esteem of our companions at the table we should go humbly to the last place, knowing all along that we will be called up higher by the host! (Crafty) This is a very strange gospel passage indeed. Jesus seems to be suggesting a strategy that has nothing to do with the reign of God; but more to do with making an impression at social events. What's going on here?
Jesus has been invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee. It is the Sabbath and it was the practice to invite guests for a meal at the conclusion of the synagogue service. The atmosphere is charged, people are "observing him carefully." Jesus has noticed how the other guests are manoeuvring for choice seats, the places of honour. Jesus uses this earthly meal table to stress that real places of honour are to be given by God; we don't have to strive for honour ourselves. When the reign of God comes in its fullness, God will bestow honour on us at the banquet table. We, in the meantime don't have to be anxious, or greedy for honour from God. Instead, we can concentrate our energies on tending to the humbler tasks involved in serving God. Hearing Jesus' invitation to this banquet, the truly humble disciple puts aside strivings for high position and any claim of one's own social standing. Places at the table are given as a gift by God. They will all be good seats, places of honour.
Jesus turns to the host with a challenge "Why do you entertain guests?
Are you trying to gain points with influential people?" Rather, he tells
them, they should be hospitable to the poor and outcasts who can't pay back.
We don't need to be paid back or honoured, not if we believe in the One in
whose presence we stand. We are already invited as special guests to the
banquet God is preparing for us. Our footing is secure, we stand honoured by
a most gracious "host". Jesus is really saying to the guests at the banquet,
'remember where you stand, and in whose presence.' If we are conscious of
the God of this banquet and the esteem with which we are already regarded,
this might embolden us to speak out more forcibly when injustice is done to
ourselves or to others. For we know where we stand and in whose word we have
placed our trust.
Humility This passage has been used to speak of humility but we
must be very careful. We must not use the teaching of Jesus to reinforce old
and possibly repressive notions. Humility may be the least understood and
most maligned of Christian virtues. People have kept themselves in
miserable, even abusive situations, in the name of humility; "humbly"
accepting their lot in life. While those with vested interests, have
extolled this virtue, not for themselves, but for others to observe who
should, "know their place." What we may need in our church today is less
false humility and more truly humble people who know their gracious God and
speak and act boldly out of their gospel convictions.
Jesus speaks about the guest list and who is on it. He has already identified with social unfortunates and outcasts. His message is sent to the highways and byways to call them in to the table he is preparing for them. They will sit with him at the banquet as honoured guests. His disciples must understand that they, and anyone who acknowledges their poverty and need before God, are the special recipients of God's honour. If disciples really understand this message, they too will invite to the table of reconciliation and equality the very same honoured guests-the blind, poor and those held captive by sin. We want to be sure we have not erected social barriers that keep some from joining us. People should feel comfortable in the church of Christ even if they come from a different economic status, are divorced, gay or single parents or are less well educated.
In these teaching in Luke's gospel Jesus breaks through the barriers society and religion have constructed. Luke keeps reminding us that at this stage of the narrative Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem and along the way he is showing his disciples who God is and how they are to live a life that reflects this hospitable God. To enable us to do so, he will die because of these teachings and his death will make this new life possible in us. The Reverend Charles Royden
O most loving Shepherd, in the deepest of all waters we will trust you. In the darkest of all valleys we will rejoice in your presence. In the worst of our days we shall rest at peace in your arms. In the most troubled of our nights we shall be comforted by your saints. Amen. Archibald Campbell Tait, 1811-1882
We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us. Yet as thou didst not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. For what is thine is ours always, if we are thine. A Quaker prayer
God of the ages and our parents, thank you for rest and the freshness of morning: before we see any human face, you show us your glory. Cleanse and keep us from all evil this day. Help us to shine among the poor as the morning sun, and inspire our thought with love like the sun at noon. Strengthen us to translate your Word into deeds. Open our eyes to see you in the natural world; open our ears to hear your loving voice; open our mouths to proclaim your salvation; open our hands to uplift the downtrodden; and open our hearts to be in fellowship with you always. Let us so walk in your light that the glory and honour will always be yours. Amen D Soundararadan, Church of South India, student at the United College of the Ascension
Creator God, as we consider the works of your hands, help us to cherish the gift of life; as we learn more of life's beginning, teach us also to be mindful of its end and fill each day with your glory. Amen Ermal Kirby, Chair of London NE District
Hymns (Hymns and Psalms)
Praise to the holiest 563, Lord the light of your love 445, Make me a channel of your peace 456, Jesus is Lord 367, The King of love my shepherd 649
Sermon (The parable of Manners) for 2nd September 2001