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.
Speak with respect
Avoid the word 'like'.
Do not swear
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.”
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.”
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)
/“/37/The two disciples heard [John] say this, and they followed Jesus.