Hospitality is sharing God's Love - Pr17c

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ss=MsoNormal>I speak to you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Amen 


1.      Think things out before speaking, especially if you are poor at finding the right words.

    1. Speak with respect
    2. Avoid the word 'like'.
    3. Do not swear
    4. Don't speak loudly

2.      Always respect all elders, and listen to them and learn.

3.      Using the terms 'Thank you', 'Please', and 'You're welcome' indicates good manners.

4.      Hold open a door for anyone, male or female, following you closely.

5.      Speak highly of your parents and show respect for them, even if you don't always feel that way.

6.      Greet others appropriately even if you know someone well.

7.      Pay attention to how you carry yourself.

And the list goes on… These are, of course, instructions on good manners

You don’t have to be Emily Post to benefit from good manners

            Good manners have been defined as ‘the social lubricant for any situation’

Over the years, and even still, I have been involved in a number of sports and most of them have involved footwear

            Now, my definition of good shoes are the ones that you don’t notice at all

                        And I believe good manners are the same

Conversely - Bad manners, like bad shoes stand out… and make the situation a little less comfortable

In Ancient Palestine – manners or social skills were part of the fabric of life

And Status in the ancient world was involved in everything,

As we see in our Gospel story, where one sat, said a great deal about who you were at any social function

Hosts would go to great pains and slaves would be well instructed as to who sat where

            But status was not only represented in seating plans

                        But in the clothes you wear – the work that you do

                                    And how food was distributed

                        Status was represented in all aspects of life

In many parts of the world this is still deeply set

            Hindus of India have the cast system and one’s status remains with them for life

The western world is very attractive to some disenfranchised Hindus because they can be released of this overbearing system

Where one can chase the American dream and make life whatever you want it to be

We are so fortunate that we are free from this ancient and oppressive system of status

Well… we may not be aware of how great our investment in status is

One look at our consumer-culture and it is clear we have our own ways of acknowledging status

            Consider the influence of the marketing world and the role that logos play

                        I imagine that not one of you arrived in a ‘No-name car’ this morning

                                    Mercedes-Benz - “The Best or nothing else”                                                                          L’Oreal Cosmetics – “because you’re worth it”

Then there our houses, and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ can be an undercurrent to any home improvement project

Of course, the most obvious and most common status symbol would be our clothes

And I can tell you from a parent with kids and ‘back to school clothes’ – brand names matter

Just last week – when Jackson returned from shopping with Kelly, he said to me “Madison would be so proud of me I now have some name brand clothes”

            …Jackson’s status went up, if only in the eyes of his sister

On one level when we look at the Gospel reading today it might appear that that Jesus is giving some pragmatic advice on good manners – good manners with an understanding of the cultural role that status plays

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.(Luke 14:7-10)

This parable doesn’t sounds like a parable at all – but it sounds a lot more like good common sense for humility in social settings

And Jesus practically quotes Proverbs 25:7, "it is better to be told, 'Come up here,' than to be put lower in the presence of a noble."

It sounds like shrewd advice rather than a spiritual practice that we might expect from our Lord

Something cultural and very ‘this-worldly’

Last month Kelly and I were invited and provided with tickets to attend the Bell Homestead’s Gala dinner

the invitation was given because Farringdon (the closest church to the Homestead) was the church of the Bell family when in Brantford

and the next day we were also hosting an ecumenical service – open to all and a horse drawn wagon would be delivering people to the church

I was aware that Vic and Lynne Garn were attending – and wanting to be with someone that we knew, I emailed them to ask if we could sit with them

Lynne, with connections to the organizers of the event, responded back that that was not possible because we, Kelly and I, were to be seated with the dignitaries

I had also heard that The Honourable David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario would be a special guest for the event

The Gala was to start at 5pm, with the problem that I had a wedding also at 5, so we would be arriving late

So when we arrived late to the event and were scanning the room for where we would be seated, I was surprised to see that there were no seats available at the table with His Honour

Instead of storming over to the table and asking who was not supposed to be there, we simply flagged down a server who flagged down the head server, who, with the seating plan found our seats

With David Levac, MPP for Brant and Phil McColeman, MP for Brant and their wives Rosemarie and Nancy

            …I was glad that deep into my unconscious this teaching of Jesus was there


Well, there is another wrinkle in this parable that is not immediately apparent to the modern ear, especially to us Canadians – who have a reputation in the world as being a polite nation – a very ‘politically correct’ country – and always apologizing

            Someone else bumps into us and we Canadians say ‘sorry’

The wrinkle is…in ancient times – humility was not seen as a positive attribute – but as a sign of weakness

So, Jesus instructing them to seek the lower position first and only then be asked upward – would have been deeply counter-cultural


However, I think that message has much more to offer than humility and good manners (as important as they are)

And… It is my opinion, that Jesus may have had second thoughts about what He had initially said

I suspect that Jesus, reading the crowd and the response to what He was saying might have realized that many of them might understand what He was saying as good manners, presented in a – shrew, cultural – this-worldly way

                        And so he makes a second attempt to convey His message

Jesus continues “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 neighbours, 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.” (Luke 14:12-13)


Jesus exhorts the host, and all within earshot, not to invite friends, family, or the rich, to meals, since they are able to repay with a corresponding invitation. Such social repayment is the backbone of the patronage system of the first-century world


Whereby in the first section it might have been easy to make it sound like social skills

            This later half speaks of something much more

Jesus turns all the social expectations on its head – and continues to reinforce a different vision of the world

You may be getting tired of hearing me say this – But Jesus, and particularly Luke’s telling of Jesus, is constantly challenging the status-quo

Jesus is taking the simple assumptions of life and presents them in contrast to the vision of God

Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God


N.T. Wright in his commentary series “Luke for Everyone” also suggests that the teaching of this passage is even more specifically addressed to the Jewish Christians in Luke's community who were having a hard time accepting the non-Jews who had joined them at "the dinner party prepared by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

Culturally, practically and spiritually Jesus is challenging all gathered at the dinner party

But what is Jesus challenging them towards? …

            It is their understanding of hospitality and the purpose of hospitality

Jesus is using the well understood meaning of hospitality in the Ancient Near-East – whereby hospitality was an extension of one’s stuff and one’s place to making a home for others

A very much needed practice – where there were no Holiday Inns as we know it – and what inns there were, were places of very questionable reputation

Jesus is presenting hospitality beyond the patronage system of reciprocity

            Jesus is presenting a new teaching of hospitality to all

                        And especially to those in need and unable to return the mercy

Jesus is teaching all of us – that all are welcome at God’s banquet table

Many scholars look to the Great commission – the last words of Jesus prior to the Ascension

            As the moment when Jesus left us with the great words of equality


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-20)

However, through-out Jesus’ earthly ministry there are numerous recordings just like today, where the Kingdom of Heaven is taught as hospitality for all

            To dwell, to live… is to make a home

It is this hospitality – this making a home for others – that we are sharing God’s love


“And the word was made flesh and dwelt amoung us” (John 1:14a)


37The two disciples heard [John] say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi… where are you dwelling?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.”

Hospitality is part of our Lord’s heart


When you define yourself as a follower of Christ as a Christ-ian, your attitude needs be the same as that of Christ Jesus, as recorded by St Paul in Philippians 2:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11)

As we confess Jesus as Lord we can be connected to our passage from Hebrews which provides and invitation to see yourself not in relation to others in the worldly pecking order – but first in relation to God and then through our relation to God – we are in relation to others

In closing I would like to share with you as situation that happened this very week

I was meeting a couple for pre-Baptism interview prior to their child to be baptized in September

After a moment or two of introducing ourselves I asked the question that I generally ask all that come inquiring about Baptism

What is baptism to you, and why here?

Their response like so many others was that they wanted to bring their daughter up as a member of God’s family – that it was the beginning of faith and an initiation into the church

All of which is true and is the topic of much of what we will discuss for the rest of the meeting

But about half way through the conversation, the mother stopped what we were specifically talking about and said she wanted to answer my first question again

She said she wanted to have her child baptized because she wants to provide a place where when life is tough, her daughter could come, come to a safe place with safe caring people – come, and know love…

What she was talking about was Holy hospitality

And in her description and hope in her heart for her young daughter, I got a glimpse of Kingdom of Heaven



Gracious God of invitation and blessing, the kingdom that your Son, Jesus Christ, inaugurates turns our way of seeing the world upside down.  We pray that you will give us eyes to see and ears to hear of your love which is opening a new world right before us.  In your holy and precious name we pray.  Amen.

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