Luke 14:7-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Humility and Hospitality
7 When [Jesus] noticed how the guests [at the Pharisee's house] chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 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. 10 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 honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 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 neighbors, 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.”
I have to admit the first time I came across this Biblical quote, it was in a Peanuts comic strip. Linus is asked by his teacher Miss Othmar why he's sitting in the back of the classroom. Linus answers by quoting this scripture. Miss Othmar is not impressed, and has him move to the front. The irony is that the Scripture is fulfilled and Linus does get to "move up higher."
But a lot of times, it just doesn't work. People who are quiet and humble get overlooked, people who don't promote themselves don't get promoted, and taking the lowest place often guarantees that you'll stay there. But is that always a bad thing?
Sunday at Atonement, we'll be talking about what it means to take your faith to the next level. Instead of "Movin' on up" like the Jeffersons, it often means we lay low and take our place among the humble, seeking contentment where we are.