Luke 14:1, 7-14
When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you have been invited by your host; and 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. But 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 honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He 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 neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
We all want a place at the table. To have the place that is near the most honoured person in the room, is a wonderful thing! To have a place at all, is an even greater gift. Here Jesus speaks of a number of aspects – the honouring of hospitality, the honouring of the rules of societal hospitality and the honouring of the guests. As God’s people, we are called to honour each other and God’s creation, hospitably. How can we balance the honouring of all with the societal norms in which we now live? It would have been a very confronting reading for the Lukan community to hear. It is difficult now for us to hear too.
What does this mean for our ecumenical table, where we draw the circle wide, and invite each other to sit alongside? What does it mean for us to be drawn into a welcoming fellowship, a mutuality of equals? What does it mean when we are receptive to each other, where we listen openly, and ‘dress’ ourselves in our best garments of gentle compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forgiveness and love? This table can have no higher and lower edges, no space that is more important than the other, and no rules that exclude on any manner of reason, because all are honoured equally as a welcomed guest… a place at the table indeed.
Prayer for our Churches
God of generous welcome,
At our table, let there be grace.
In our serving, let there be humility.
Through our invitation, let there be inclusion.
From our insensitivity, let there be realisation.
For our wounding, let there be forgiveness.
By our sharing, let there be generosity.
With our kindness, let there be compassion.
As we listen, let there be patience.
Gentle Love, let there be a place at our table for all. Amen
© Rev Anne Hewitt 24/08/2022
This reflection & prayer may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.
Past Reflections and prayers can be found at churchestogethersa.org.au
Suggested Song: For everyone born, a place at the table.
By Shirley Erena Murray
For everyone born, a place at the table,
for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,
for everyone born, a star overhead,
Chorus: and God will delight when we are creators
of justice and joy, compassion and peace:
yes, God will delight when we are creators
of justice, justice and joy!
For woman and man, a place at the table,
revising the roles, deciding the share,
with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,
for woman and man, a system that’s fair,
For young and for old, a place at the table,
a voice to be heard, a part in the song,
the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
for young and for old, the right to belong,
For just and unjust, a place at the table,
abuser, abused, with need to forgive,
in anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy,
for just and unjust, a new way to live,
For everyone born, a place at the table,
to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship,
for everyone born, the right to be free,
Words © 1998 Hope Publishing Company, 380 S Main Pl, Carol Stream, IL 60188