Thursday, November 3rd. Luke 14:7-14

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “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; 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. 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. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

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. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:7-14

 

This has only happened to me once but I learned my lesson well.  I, an associate pastor, along with my senior pastor, had been invited to a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  Although we knew some of the family members, we didn’t know everybody so he and I stuck close together.  Eventually we sat down at the end of what was obviously the head table in the room…culturally, we knew this is where the pastors were supposed to sit.

 

All was well until just about when everyone was directed to find their seat.  And one of the daughters came up to me and the other pastor and explained that they had saved that last chair for the senior pastor.  So I, dutifully and red-faced, retreated to the back of the room and sat at a table with the cousins.

 

I’ve learned that lesson well.  Since then I’m always going to be toward the end of the buffet line.  I’m very aware of the “places of honor” when it comes to dinner seating and I never presume to know where I’m supposed to sit unless it is clearly marked.

 

You would think that being raised in North Dakota would have been enough to plant well the lesson that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  I’ve been to plenty of meals where the guests gush on and on about how ecstatically excellent the food was only to hear the hostess demur, “Oh, it’s nothing.  Just a little something I threw together.”

 

The unwritten rule is that the guests are supposed to gush like that, the hostess is supposed to demur like that, and both continue doing so until someone changes the subject of conversation back to the weather (where it belongs) and then you wait and do the whole thing again over dessert.

 

But heaven forbid that you neglect to gush (you’ll never be invited over again) or that the hostess claims credit for slaving away for hours while admitting that yes, she is an excellent cook (you won’t want to go over there again…well maybe.)

 

This is why (I’m revealing a trade secret here) pastors quickly learn to take a little something from every single bowl offered at every pot luck dinner.  You never know whose eyes are paying close attention, waiting to be offended if you don’t try their tuna casserole with strawberries on top.

 

Here’s the bottom line:  We all stand together under the cross of Jesus.  Human nature will always keep score, mark the pecking order, eat with friends, and ignore those who have no table at which to sit or food to put upon it.  Thus Jesus invites us to invite the lame, lost and outcast, not just to our table but into our lives.  And he doesn’t use them as a handy counter point to keep us humble, he really means it.

 

The world would be a much better place if we weren’t so intent on keeping our place in place.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, forgive us for our incessant score keeping, our “keep up with the Jones’” thinking, and our avoidance of people outside of our immediate circles.  Fill our hearts with love and compassion, open our eyes to those who are too often invisible to us, and give us opportunity to be neighbor to those in need.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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5 Responses to “Thursday, November 3rd. Luke 14:7-14”

  1. Anna Jurek Says:

    Well said. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Especially good to remember as we approach Thanksgiving meals. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Judy Says:

    Good reminder to open up our circles. We sometimes unknowingly leave out others who would want to be part of our groups.

  4. Barbara Says:

    We sometimes have big parties – anniversary, birthday, holiday- and always make it a point to invite many people who probably don’t get invited to many parties. It’s interesting that these people always seem to have the best time and make the party most festive.

  5. Mary Sohlin Says:

    This reminds me of the time I was in nurses’ training, saw a guy I had just dated sittin in the reception area, and started to act super friendly around him. A few moments later the girl he had asked out came down to meet him.Talk about super red in the face. I learned my humility lesson right there and then.
    Great devotion today. Thank you.

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