Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 230
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Holy Communion.
1st September 2013
Bible References :
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Prayer to start
May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ.
‘Let mutual love continue –
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers –
For by doing that – some have entertained angels without knowing it’
The opening verses from our reading from Hebrews –
Have we entertained any Angels recently?
The leader of the Pharisees – and his guests – in our Gospel reading – clearly had – but they didn’t realise it –
Luke’s Gospel has more meal time scenes than any of the other Gospels – and in these verses – Jesus is invited to the most important meal of the week – the Sabbath meal
As part of the celebrations of Shabbat – the Jewish day of rest – it was customary to invite ‘visiting preachers’ and other important guests – after the synagogue service – to relax and share in the celebrations –
The meal would have been carefully prepared the day before so that there would be no work involved on the Sabbath – also too – the guest list – with Jesus – no doubt on this occasion – as part of the entertainment –
Jesus begins to teach them about humility and generosity – through the example of their seating arrangements –
The places of honour that Jesus is talking about were small three seater couches arranged in a U-shape around the table – guests reclined on their left elbow – and the place of highest honour was in the central position on the couch at the base of the ‘U’- with the second and third places to the right and left of the centre –
Problems began when people would tried to get as close as possible – to the host or the guest of honour – to boost their own status – by taking one of the best seats
The most important guests would arrive fashionably late – so they could be noticed –
and because they were meticulous and proud about their orthodoxy and status – they would often insist that people were moved if they were in their seat or seating area.
Many big Christian events held today – or large services at Cathedrals often have trouble with those who want to be seated at the front – or on a platform – and for their spouses as well – it can be a real headache for the organisers
Jesus’ message is that we should let others be the judge of our worth – because they can see it more clearly than we can –
– we need to be humble – or risk being humiliated
Any explosion of inflated pride will sooner or later explode in our faces –
All this of course – is not only about our relationship with one another – but also about our relationship with God –
In Jesus’ day – it was all too easy for the well off and privileged – to imagine that they were superior in God’s sight – to the poor or to those who never had the opportunity to study – or get on
But and true humility always comes from the heart
And outward practice without the inward spirit is worthless –
Only if we are willing to recognize the importance of others – and to value them properly – as God values them –will we be honouring God in the way that we should – through our lives and through our service –
Jesus also had an important message for the host about hospitality
When we have dinner guests – do we choose them for our sake – or for theirs? – Are they selected to improve our own ego’s or because those invited would really benefit from the meal? –
Our hospitality needs to reflect the open-handed Grace of God which requires that we approach the needs of others – in the same way that Jesus would approach them – with welcoming love and understanding – inviting and helping those who really need our help –
If we recognize the true value of others – and are glad to elevate and help them – we will not only have better relationships – than someone in constant competition for power – and position – we will also be blessed – and repaid at the resurrection of the righteous
Point 2 Hebrews – God’s challenge to us
The most important work in God’s eyes is that which is done without expectations of personal reward or glory- and in our NT reading Paul gives us some practical advice on what we should be doing – in our communities to help others and to help spread God’s love and Grace to all –
Self-giving love is essential – and love within the Christian fellowship – is top of the list
If the church – can’t live as a loving family – then our witness will be undermined
We must help the vulnerable – and those in prison – we are all required to support and help our neighbours in need –
Christian marriages – are an attractive testimony to God’s standards of self-giving love – and should be encouraged – and held in honour by all –
Love of money must – be avoided – this falls far short of the eternal security that belonging to God can provide
Christian Leaders should inspire others – but they will come and go – so we must always look to our unchanging leader – Jesus Christ – for inspiration and guidance –
God is working to transform the spark within us – so we will be noticed by those around us – and radiate His presence – He wants us to use our knowledge and closeness to Him – to help others learn of His presence – and His ways –
its not about our ability – but our availability – even if we think such things are beyond us – they are certainly not beyond God –
God is always pleased to receive what we attempt in His Name – ready to accept our glad and uninhibited worship and praise of Him when we offer it –
So when it comes to entertaining angels what do we need to be aware of or remember?
One person we should always be ware of and ready to entertain is the one special angel sent by God – to save us all – and to show us the way to God’s presence and love – Jesus Christ –
Many rejected Jesus – because He did not come to them the way they expected Him to. The Jews were looking for a king to overthrow the Roman government, but instead they got a baby in a manger, who rode in as king on a donkey and offered His life as a sacrifice on a cross –
We need to welcome Him into our homes and be ready and willing to give Him the honour and position He deserves.
We must understand too that our Christian worship and service needs to be put into practice – to provide God’s generosity and love to those around us –
Our lives must become a sacrifice to God and to others – we must live lives that share and help others –
Those who are in most need of God – are often those who are closest to Him –
We must care for one another in practical ways –provide a love for one another – that reflects God’s Grace
Angels are all around us – we often don’t recognize them
God knows who they are –
Perhaps this poem from ‘Connie Campbell Bratcher will help us recognize them along the way:
‘You never know as you meet someone
Just what might be their need.
Sometimes a warm smile or handshake
is all it takes to plant a fruitful seed.
Other times you may need to speak a word
of encouragement to a sister or brother
or share your faith along the way
as God gives opportunity with another.
When you meet with a hurting neighbour
alongside of the your journey’s road
be sure to reach out with a loving hand
and help carry their heavy load.
For you never know on life’s pathway
Just who you might meet there…
Always take note of each precious soul,
For some have entertained Angels unaware.’