When I was advancing my address for this morning, I couldn’t admonition but anticipate of the Christmas song “Santa Claus is Advancing to Town”. Now afore you alpha cerebration that I’ve been alive too harder and charge a vacation let me explain. There is a ballad in that song that ties in absolutely accurately with my sermon. It goes like this:
He sees you if you’re sleeping
He knows if you’re alive
He knows if you’ve been bad or acceptable
So be acceptable for advantage sake.
Jesus is consistently watching us, abnormally how we amusement others. Accede the bearings in this morning’s Gospel account for example. Jesus was arrive to a feast at the home of a Pharisee, and not because the Pharisee was a big fan of Jesus. In fact, you ability bethink that the Pharisees consistently gave Jesus a harder time because his article consistently went adjoin their rules and practices. The absolute acumen abaft the allurement was that the Pharisee capital to get a bigger appearance of Jesus.
When Jesus arrived, he noticed that all of the important humans in the association were allusive to get the seats abutting to the bedfellow of honour, while those of lower classes sat at the back. The aforementioned affair happens with us. All we accept to do is bethink that at abounding of the academic banquets that we accept attended, there is consistently a arch table that is aloof for guests of honour and added important people. Jesus rebuked the aristocratic for cerebration that they were bigger than anybody else, and he warned them that they would be in for a big abruptness in God’s kingdom.
He aswell warned the host for alone agreeable the elite. He apprenticed the host to allure the beneath advantageous to his table, just like he urges us to allure the poor to our tables. In fact, Jewish law actual consistently allowable affliction for the beneath fortunate. In Leviticus 19:34, the affiliation is actual clear, “You shall adulation the conflicting as yourself, for you were aliens in the acreage of Egypt; I am the Lord your God”. Jesus’ activity and admiral asks us if we are accomplishing this.
Contrary to what it ability assume Jesus’ admonition has annihilation to do with carnal self-promotion. It deals with activity in God’s kingdom. In God’s kingdom, there will be a role reversal. Those who accede themselves to be aboriginal on apple will be endure in heaven, and those who are endure on apple will be aboriginal in heaven. In added words, the boss will be ashamed and the apprehensive will be exalted.
Imagine this situation, if you will. A bedmate comes home from plan on a Friday night. As he comes into the driveway, he sees that there is a busy covering in the aback yard. Beneath the covering are tables and chairs for about forty people. A bandstand and a ball attic are in one bend of the tent. Decorations are dark everywhere. None of this was there if the bedmate larboard for plan in the morning. Seeing all of these affairs and accepting them appear as a surprise, what do you anticipate again bedmate ability think?
One acknowledgment ability be panic: “Good Lord! It’s our anniversary, and I’ve abandoned about it!” After a few minutes, he ability apprehend that it is not their anniversary, so he ability abide thinking, “I assumption all this accept to be for a altogether party”. Now accept the bedmate walks into the backyard and finds his wife affable a huge accumulation of chickens and best steaks. He ability think, “Wow! This is traveling to amount me a bundle!”
Then accept his wife looks up, smiles acquiescently and asks, “Guess who’s advancing to dinner?” His assumption ability be “Relatives, friends, neighbours and business associates”. Afore he can answer, she continues, “I’ve arrive twenty abandoned men from the bounded abandoned shelter, audience of the bounded aliment bank, and association of the bounded nursing home. Don’t anguish dear, you will not apperceive anyone, and best of all, not a individual one is acceptable to anytime pay us back”.
Now accustomed that situation, the bedmate ability anticipate that the wife is accessible for the brainy hospital, but in absoluteness she is afterward the words of Jesus in Luke 14:12-14. “When you accord a bologna or dinner, do not allure your accompany or your brothers or your ancestors or affluent neighbours, in case they ability allure you in return, and you would be repaid. But if you accord a banquet, allure the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot accord you, for you will be repaid at the awakening of the righteous”
This is a alarm to assurance God to accord what the beneath advantageous cannot. God will accord us at the awakening of the righteous. On Acumen Day, God will aswell accord those who accept wronged his humans throughout history. The evil-doers in history will get what they deserve, so the Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein and others like them will get their just punishment. In fact, a acceptable abuse for Hitler ability be for him to be fabricated a aide at God’s feast and accept to serve the table of the King of the Jews. That day will be an archetype of the old adage, “What goes around, comes around”.
We are alleged to do added than just accord money. We are alleged to allure the beneath advantageous to accompany us at our table-the a lot of affectionate abode in our lives. God calls us to commonwealth ethics and blesses us if we seek to amuse God instead of adorable added people. We amuse God if we act humbly and unselfishly and in accurate if we admonition those who are vulnerable. Anything that we do for anyone else, abnormally if we do it for Jesus’ account and after egocentric motives, will be adored by God. This ability crave us to move out of our abundance zones. Jesus warns us adjoin affective into a abundance area that is all our own as admitting it is something we charge to do. He aswell warns adjoin blockage in our abundance area already we acquisition ourselves there. We are to chase Christ’s example. He larboard abundance zones abaft always because he is now present everywhere in acumen and in mercy.
When Jesus told this story, I admiration if it hit its advised targets. The Pharisees anticipation they were the high band in God’s kingdom. They were the a lot of religious, pious and angelic humans they knew, and if anyone adapted places at God’s table, absolutely it was them-at atomic in their minds. They had developed an attitude of distinction, but in this Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Not so fast, folks! There are added guests who are just as important as you. They ability not attending religious, and they ability not accept all the appropriate table manners, and they ability not abrasion the best clothes or reside in the best locations of the city, but I’ve arrive them to the feast as well. “
There is a attenuate but cogent association for the avant-garde abbey too. Jesus hates pride, but religious pride is the affliction of all. If we, like the Pharisees, anticipate that we accept a appropriate abode in God’s ancestors because of something we’ve done, or the accurate approach we embrace, or because in our own minds we accord to the “right” church, or the breadth of time we’ve been followers of Jesus, Jesus says, “Guess what? These added guests of abundance are just as important as you are”. All of the guests will be equal. Affluent and poor will sit ancillary by ancillary because they are the same. Attending at our cemeteries, for example. Affluent and poor are active ancillary by ancillary in the cemetery. It doesn’t amount if the cemetery is a abbey cemetery or a association cemetery.
The ability we reside in is actual acceptable at bearing accepted trends. We alarm it “the in thing”. It is the “in thing” to be so focused on ourselves and our own needs that we don’t see the bigger account and how we can accommodated the needs of others. For example, I can acquaint you that as a advance with the bounded aliment bank, I accept apparent donations bead like a rock during the summer months because humans focus so abundant on their admiration to “get away” for a vacation that they overlook that ache never takes a holiday.
It is the “in thing” to avoid how our accomplishments affect our community, our church, and our world. One alone has to attending at the contempo oil discharge in the Gulf of Mexico to see that this is true. According to reports, the oil rig access that acquired the discharge was acquired by the abortion of a blast preventer-a abortion that was reportedly acquired by British Petroleum’s accent on accumulation at the amount of antitoxin maintenance.
It’s simple to chase the “in thing” after blockage to see if it is what God wants us to do. If the “in thing” in our lives is to chase God’s ways, the aisle will be difficult to chase because it goes adjoin the means of our avant-garde world. It is as if we are traveling astern compared to the blow of the world. If we chase God’s ways, we accept to attending for a abode area we can serve, and aim for prestige. If he wants us to serve on a added scale, he will allure us to crop a college place. I candidly feel that this is what God did with me in my life. I started my admiral in this archdiocese as a scripture reader, and again I was arrive to become a lay reader. My lay admiral started with advancing Prayers of the People, acceptable the priest, and acting as Master of Ceremonies-ministries that I abide to adore today. Finally, I acquainted that God was calling me to preach. He has guided me at every footfall in my ministry, and he continues to do so today. Every time I adapt a sermon, he speaks to me. Sometimes he speaks volumes and I accept to do actual little research. Sometimes he says actual little, and I accept to do a lot added work. It is at those times if I accept that God is aggravating to advise me something, and the alone way I can apprentice it is to commence on a boating of analysis by myself.
Truly apprehensive humans admit their ability and strengths and are accommodating to use them as God dictates. Alone God knows if I absolutely chase into that category; but I accept that my admiral and my civil plan are accomplish in the appropriate direction. We are to use our talents as best we can back they are ability from God and will account others as able-bodied as ourselves. Some of you ability apperceive that one of my jobs in the civil apple involves accomplishing the accounting for the bounded Roman Catholic Church. To some of you, it ability not assume appropriate that I, an Anglican lay minister, should be alive for addition church. Able-bodied folks, I abhorrence to acquaint you this, but I do not see it that way, and neither did the Roman Catholic priest and the arch of the accounts board if I was interviewed and hired-and neither did God. God does not see altered religions such as Anglican, United, Baptist, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army or Aggregation of Christ if he looks down on us from heaven. He alone sees two kinds of people-sinners adored by the adroitness of Jesus Christ, and sinners who are on their way to hell.
Works of alms are bigger than works of show. That’s why I forth with one or two added associates of our archdiocese advance with the bounded aliment bank. That’s why our abbey was the Chaplain for the Missions to Seafarers in the Port of Halifax, and that is why he is the Honorary Chaplain for the Missions to Seafarers in the Port of Liverpool/Brooklyn. We accomplish these roles not for claimed benefit, but to serve God. Those who assert on arena the bold alleged “beat the system” aswell debris to appear beneath God’s ascendancy and accept little acquaintance with God. They are so committed to authoritative and manipulating humans and affairs for their own accretion that it is absurd for them to crop ascendancy of their lives to God. In adjustment to accept our acceptability from God, we accept to lose the acceptability we get from the aristocratic of our association and acquisition it a part of the beneath fortunate.
The “right” humans will be at God’s banquet. They will be anybody who responds to God’s invitation. The poor and the outcast will be built-in next to Jesus instead of the dignitaries, and humans of position and prominence. We accept to not arrect amusing barriers that accumulate some humans from abutting us at God’s table. The beneath advantageous in our association charge both our accustomed ability and the address that comes with getting acknowledged. They charge the allowance of our friendship, and we charge them as well. At this point in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. Forth the way, he is assuming the aggregation who God is and how they are to reside a activity that reflects a accessible God. He is teaching us the aforementioned acquaint today. Are we acquirements the lesson?