Sermon

Proper 17, Luke 14:1, 7-14

          Did you wonder what was left out of the story this morning?  What happens in verses 2-6?  Jesus has continued on his journey and is in another town.  They’ve heard about him, though and the things he’s been doing.  It’s another Sabbath and he is invited to have dinner at the home of one of the Pharisees.  They’re keeping their eyes on him.  As they make their way to the home, there is a man with dropsy, a condition of severe fluid retention.  Jesus asks the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath or not?”  They keep silent, so Jesus cures the man, then he reiterates that they would help their child or their animal even if it is the sabbath.  And then they go into the home.

          Jesus watches the people jockeying for position at the banquet.  We can safely infer that those sitting nearest the host are the most honored.  It’s not any different today.  Have you walked into a banquet hall – perhaps at a wedding or a company function – with open seating?  Long ago I figured out that it is more advantageous to sit away from the front.  Sitting at the front tables means being on your best behavior – where’s the fun in that?  You need to pay careful attention to the speaker and what is going on.  (Maybe that’s why people don’t want to sit in the front pews.)  There’s a special spotlight of sorts on those “honored” guests, which spills over to those sitting near them.  For the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders sitting “up front” was a symbol of success.  Today we have our own symbols of success.

          At different stages in our lives, the symbols of success change.  But if we ask those with wisdom, those who have lived six decades or more, they might say: family, friends, adequate living space and cash, sense of accomplishment, ability to take the time and do things.  Spend some time thinking about what symbols represent success for you at this time in your life.

             What do you know about Labor Day?  “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887.  By 1894, 30 states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.  This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day.  Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”  (US Department of Labor, the History of Labor Day.)

This morning we should mention the spiritual aspects of the labor movement.  The unions did help those workers who were being treated unfairly.  Labor laws that we take for granted have not always existed.

A minimum wage and a limit to the hours and days of work without additional compensation.  The group was able to have an impact and make changes that were impossible for an individual.  Unions were begun to take care of the welfare of those who did the work, those who did not have the power to do it themselves.  And they have been successful, but there are still laborers that need help.  Being a follower of Jesus reminds us that we need to pay attention and do what we can to help those laborers.

 Jesus defines success as simply use the gifts you have been given to make the world a better place.  Take care of those less fortunate than you.  If worldly success comes with that, good for you  – just don’t get the two confused.  Worldly success does not guarantee happiness or eternal life.  We need to listen to the wisdom of our seniors about true success…

          This notion is reiterated in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.  It gives us the action steps we need to follow to be successful as Jesus defines success. Show hospitality to strangers; remember those who are in prison or trouble.  Invite those less fortunate or that you don’t really know to eat with you.

           We do so many things to help those who cannot repay us.  You may not be aware of all the groups that use our facility.  There are five different groups to help people live without addictions that meet at St. Anne’s.  The Boy Scouts have been meeting here for years.  We open our Parish Hall on Tuesday and Thursdays to Visions in Education – a tutoring service for those high school students that are part of a charter school or doing independent study.  The Church of St. Charbel meets three Saturday evenings a month for worship in our church.  By having a place to worship, they are forming a community and raising funds to be able to build their own worship space.  As a part of this church community you are showing hospitality to some groups that cannot repay you.  All in all, St. Anne’s is doing a good job showing hospitality to our community.

          Each week we are invited to share a meal with Christ.  All are invited, to come to the rail and share equally.  We are the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, and God feeds us.  We can never fully repay God for the gift of grace that has been so abundantly given us, yet we are always invited.  We can follow the example and reach out to those around us knowing we will be paid with a much greater reward than our effort has earned.  This week I ask you to consider what you might do to show hospitality to those who are “poor, crippled, lame or blind” – literally or figuratively.  Consider how you might help a stranger.  Do a good deed.

At the Eucharist come…eat.  Then go and show the same hospitality to others.   Amen.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

You must be logged in to leave a reply.

Email
Print
WP Socializer Aakash Web