August 29, 2004
Luke 14:1, 7-14
 One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move.
 He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said,  "When someone invites you to dinner, don't take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host.  Then he'll come and call out in front of everybody, 'You're in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.' Red-faced, you'll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.
 "When you're invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, 'Friend, come up to the front.' That will give the dinner guests something to talk about!  What I'm saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face. But if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself."
 Then he turned to the host. "The next time you put on a dinner, don't just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor.  Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks.  You'll be--and experience--a blessing. They won't be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned--oh, how it will be returned!-at the resurrection of God's people."
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1. Can you imagine that all eyes were on GOD at creation time. They watch how GOD brought things together in categories, one step at a time. A question behind the glancings had to do with figuring out what the rules of the game are. So with Jesus. Folks are trying to figure out where they fit into the game of life. So with you and I. Folks are still trying to figure out the significance of life. Like it or not, believe it or not, folks are watching your every move. As people who claim an awareness of GOD, we are watched to see what we know. Will we falter and reveal hypocrisy? Will we fail to express forgiveness and infinite amount? Will we justify the current order?
2. It is always helpful to look at simple, everyday events to see what is important. When I was growing up, everyone had their place around the table. Even when someone was gone, their place was still held in their absence. We all felt better knowing the pecking order. As we gather for celebrations these days the seating is rather chaotic. One time, one way, and the next, another. Place is very powerful when first we are growing, but seems very inconsequential as we mature. Now we can be content to simply be who we are and in such all us are more than we used to be.
3. One example of how to most clearly and quickly break the spell of space and some immature use of place that keeps us all trapped is the gift of invitation to folks who don't know their place. This is the function of newcomers in a congregation. With them we are - and experience - a blessing we never knew to be within our imaginings. In this gift of invitation we plant the seed of new life, of resurrection. Invite soon and invite often.