Sunday Sermie

Click here for the reading:
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

Introduction: Imagine a banquet
o    There's a big table
o    Its your birthday
o    Beautiful center pieces
o    All your favorite foods...really good stuff
o    Meats (during sermon...invite kids and adults to choose all the foods)
o    Vegetables
o    Desserts
o    Table is ready for the guests!
o    Who should we invite?

·         Today's gospel is an invitation to think about those open seats in our lives...
o    Not just the seats at banquets
o    But also the open seats in the break room at work
o    In the Sunday School area
o    At the cafe or school cafeteria
o    On the bleachers at the game
o    Around the altar

·         Who gets an invitation?

·         Jesus gives us some good food for thought in today's gospel text.

·         Jesus got invited to a party. He went. There was food. Food and banquets...they come up a few times in the gospel of Luke.

·         Parties were a big deal. Huge. There were a lot of unspoken rules. 
o    You only invited people of the same social status.
o    You would only go to a party when you knew you'd be able to repay the invitation.
o    Everyone was watching...washing, eating, who, sitting
o    Also, no one questioned the host. The host was the boss.

·         So Jesus gets invited to a special meal. At the home of a Pharisee. And everyone is watching.
o    Before he even gets in the door, he heals someone. On the Sabbath. Big no-no at the time.
o    Then, gets to the party and he looks around. He observes.

o    Everybody is looking for the perfect seat. Jesus sees this. If you found a good seat close to the right people - it could end up providing new opportunities to climb the social ladder. 
o    Jesus speaks up....right in the middle of someone else's party

·         First...a lesson in humility. He says, "Don't obsess about picking the perfect spot so you can climb up the social ladder. Humble yourselves."

·         Then, some invitational guidance...SAID DIRECTLY TO THE HOST! (OHSNAP!)
o    Basically, he says, "Guess what? You invited all the wrong people." 
o    You can't invite people who will return the favor.
o    You have to invite people who can never pay you back. 
o    Specifically: poor, crippled, lame, blind - i.e. - invite the people no one else would invite.
·         In some ways, the context and time period were so different; but in a lot of ways, it's the same
·         When we're making decisions - we are still faced with decisions all the time about whether to look at the world from a human perspective - and when to look from God's perspective. 
·         In today's gospel, Jesus says: LOOK FROM GOD'S PERSPECTIVE....life isn't about social advancement; it's about making sure people feel loved and included


·         Jesus uses this banquet table as a way to teach some much larger life lessons
o    God's love frees us to act in surprising ways
o    Really surprising
o    In fact, God's love frees us to ask deep questions about the systems and patterns around us. Status quo. Jesus questioned injustice all the time. In really bold ways. Like telling a party host that he got the guest list wrong. BOLD.
·         But our starting point in conversations like these isn't on shoulds or shouldn'ts - it's on grace and love and the presence of God. 
·         We can ask deep questions  - and explore because we know and trust that we are loved and saved by grace. None of us get this right.

·         We don't re-examine the guest list because we want a better chance at heaven.
·         We re-examine the guest list because Jesus asks us, too. Because he believes that every voice and every person deserves a spot in the table of life.

·         It starts with a willingness to observe and look within. 
·         In all the areas of our lives and our world.
o    Who is here? Who is not here?  Why?
o    What would an appropriate invitation and follow-up look like?        
§  It isn't just getting people into a space...it isn't just about filling up pews.
§  It's about valuing people.
·         It's about the value of all people.
·         Jesus wanted everyone to know they were worthy.
·         He wanted everyone to know that were deserving of love.
·         People still need to know they are worthy and deserving of love.
·         We all need to know that.  And we can pass it on.

·         This week: Let's observe the banquet tables in our own lives. Let's be willing to observe and ask questions. Let's expand the table. 
·         Jesus always speaks with hope and possibility.
·         He shared this parable originally because he wanted to re-orient the way people looked at the world.  The same need holds true today.

·         Let us pray: Lord of life, you invite us into relationship with you and you never turn us away. Inspire and empower us to invite all people to your table of love. Amen. 

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