Luke 14:1, 7-14 (New Revised Standard Version)
1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
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. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12He 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. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Devotional Questions from the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me as I read this text?
What delights me as I read this text?
What stories or memories from my own life do I remember when I read this text? It might be a story about a banquet that you remember attending, for example.
What do you think God is up to as you read this text? What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?
I cannot remember the last time that I attended a banquet that was fancy enough for place cards. Honestly, because my husband and I often have three young girls in tow, we are looking for a place out at the edges, preferably close to both the bathroom and the banquet table but far enough from the cake that it won’t be an irresistible temptation for little fingers. Having what most would consider “the best spot” doesn’t even enter my mind at this point in life.
I have, however, recently been to camp, and have seen all sorts of seating preferences come into play. The only rule at camp is that each table must have room for one adult to oversee the chaos. However, it is interesting to sit back and watch what other “rules” become established as the week goes on. The first rule, of course, it sitting with as many of your friends as possible. Then comes sitting with a “fun” counselor or other adult. If the meal occurs at lunchtime, a shady spot is preferable. Depending on which counselor is asking the trivia questions to determine which table gets to eat next, you might choose a table full of Bible scholars, sports nuts, or Carol Joy Holling experts. All of these rules determine where you might want to sit.
Then, there is the table that no one seems to want to sit at: the table of outcasts. Remember being in 6-8th grade? Then you know the table. This is the place where others flock until they see a certain person who they don’t like, or who it’s not cool to like, or someone who doesn’t fit in with others. When this happens, smart people turn the other way, break up their friend groups, and sit at other tables. After all, who wants to sit there?
Jesus makes us examine ourselves and our behavior in this month’s text, especially when it comes to seating preference. Where do you think Jesus would be sitting at camp? At the next wedding feast? At your house? Where is he calling you to sit? Who is he calling you to choose? How is he calling you to reach out in new ways? I look forward to sitting and studying with you this month, as together we try to figure out the seating chart of God’s Kingdom.
In Christ, Pastor Breen