Looking to Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Revised Common Lectionary Texts for Sunday, September 2, 2007 (Lectionary 22)

  • Proverbs 25:6-7
  • Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
  • Luke 14:1, 7-14

Early look at the lessons …

(Disclaimer … there may not be good linear logical progression in these notes.)

Proverbs – Knowing what is coming up in the Gospel lesson, we find that this is the same teaching Jesus relays to the attendees of a dinner party at the home of a leader of the Pharisees. This theme is heard twice on Sunday. Don’t assume your status when in the presence of important people or you may be humbled and embarrassed, it is better to humble yourself and let them elevate you. (Is this why so many churchgoers sit in the back of the church?) It is still a kick in the pants if I intentionally humble myself and then I’m not elevated by the important person!

Hebrews – My Bible labels this section of Hebrews, “Service Well-Pleasing to God”. There is not much easy about the listing … at least some of it.

  • mutual love
  • hospitality to strangers
  • remember those in prison
  • remember those being tortured
  • hold marriage in honor
  • do not defile the marriage bed
  • keep your lives free from the love of money
  • be content with what you have
  • remember your leaders and imitate their faith
  • continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God
  • do not neglect to do good
  • do not neglect to share what you have

Luke – Verse 7 says that Jesus told them a parable … but if he did, the parable is missing! He gave them instruction. I understand a parable to be a “teaching story”. I think I’ve heard more sermons in my life on verses 7-11 than I have on 12-14. Verses 7-11 is the same teaching as Proverbs 25:6-7. Verses 12-14 are much harder, especially verse 13, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”

So, I’m thinking …

I think it is too easy to make one’s motivation the focus of the Gospel reading. There is a clause suggesting that Jesus is questioning the motivation for who we invite. But I’m convinced this is a whole lot more than who we invite to dinner. At the same time, I wonder how many have actually invited a stranger or someone in need to dinner. I know a few people who like doing that, but not many.

For me, hearing the Hebrews selection with the Gospel for this day … I’m thinking about how much we are oriented toward God and God’s ways.

People expect that God is available at our every beck and call, and not only available immediately, but immediately responsive. Is our availability and responsiveness reciprocal? Of course not!

My Bible, as I said, labels the Hebrews chapter as “Service Well-Pleasing to God”. I’m not sure that I would characterize this selection as “service”. It is more an orientation, especially the verbs remember, hold, keep, be content, etc.

Looking for the Gospel can be pretty challenging. There is action leading to reward or consequence (very little grace there) in the Luke passage. The Hebrews passage has a list of things we are to be about. The only way we can shoehorn grace into these passages is to recognize how we as broken people have been cared for in the same way that God calls us to care for others. I’m not so sure that is the intent of the passages.

It will be interesting to see where I go Sunday.

Pondering Pastor

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