Let us pray: Dear Lord this morning we come to you as our example of how we should act and live. Lord we ask that you allow us to seek you with our full hearts. Allow us to place you first in our lives, not exalting ourselves but humbling ourselves so our lives will exalt you. Lord help those in leadership at Pitcher Hill, help us to remember and trust you O Lord. Enable me as your messenger this morning. To deliver a word that will speak to your children and spark life in their hearts. This Lord I pray in Jesus name. Amen
Today our focus will be twofold. First I want us to spend time in the teachings of Jesus showing how we should act and live. Second I want us to look at the leadership of Pitcher Hill Community Church.
This morning I would like to begin with a bit of wisdom that each one of us should know, if you do not know it than you are about to learn something important. So what is this bit of wisdom?
Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me.
This simply means that the first time a person pulls one over you shame on the person. Yet if a person pulls the same again and we fall for it a second time we have only ourselves to blame.
About this time you might be wondering how I am possibly going to tie this into the text we have before us. Well the story that we have before us is one that fits into this saying.
You see Jesus went to the house of a Pharisee and was back stabbed, betrayed and verbally attacked, shame on the Pharisee. Yet Jesus returns time and time
again to the home of a Pharisee seemingly to the world to be fooled time and time again, they would say shame on Him.
The only problem is this is Jesus he comes back again and again to try and teach.
So here we have Jesus coming to eat and found himself once again under close scrutiny.
Now when this happens to most men would do whatever they can to take the light off of them. Instead Jesus turns the spot lights on himself, so they are shining on Him in an unmistakable manner.
Before I continue I would like to share a personal story, when I was doing my basic training at Fort Lost in the Woods Misery. I was bitten by a spider, a brown recluse. This caused my left leg to swell up almost the same width as my hips. So I can feel for the man Jesus was addressing. I also wish that like this man, I would have had Jesus to heal me instantly instead of the months it took me to heal up.
Now back to Luke’s account.
There was a man suffering from abnormal swelling. This may have been gout or may have been elephantiasis, the Bible is not specific. All it says is that he had abnormal swelling of his body.
Then Jesus once again not only steps into the spot light but turns each one on Him to make sure there would be no mistake asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
While the healing is a violation of the Jewish law it was not the focus in this story. Instead Jesus asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”
So if an ox falls into a well or if our child falls into a well what would anyone of you do? They would reach down and pull it out even if it is the Sabbath day.
How did they respond? Those who were so full of judgement so full of arrogance and self-importance? They said nothing!
This brings Jesus to the second part of the teaching. The whole Sabbath issue while not resolved was placed on the back burner.
Yet Jesus was not done yet. You see he was student of people. He made it a policy to watch people. To notice things about all those gathered around him.
One of the things that he noted was the preferences of the guests. How they would try to get the place of honor. In first century culture you always want the positions of honor Jesus knows this and wants to call attention to it. This he does by sharing a parable.
When there is a wedding feast do not rush to take the most important place do not try to find the place of honor. Because the more you try to exalt yourself the hard it may be for you. What happens if a person more distinguished than you has been invited?
If so, the host who invited both of you may come to you and say, Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be humiliated and forced to take the least important place.
Want an example? Instead of a wedding banquet we had another event. The place was Anchorage Alaska, the year 2010, the reason for gathering the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
The committee organizing the event called Elmendorf AFB and asked for a chaplain to give the opening prayer. I volunteered not really knowing what I was getting myself into.
I thought it would be a program in a banquet room. Instead it was on a stage the size of the Landmark Theater!
I walked on stage and sat in the seventh row of the chairs trying to make myself as small as possible. Then a man (the Mayor’s deputy chief of staff), breezed on to the stage and began shaking hands and sham oozing with all the people. He came to me looked at me and I introduced myself as a chaplain from Elmendorf, he rolled his eyes and said, “like I care.” then he sat in the front row of the seats on stage.
Just then an imperious person with a clip board a sure sign of authority came up to him and asked who he was. He introduced himself as the deputy chief of staff for the Mayor. The person with the clipboard said I am sorry but these seats on stage are for the people in the program please leave and go find a seat in the audience.
Then she noticed me, “Chaplain, I did not see you there you are going to be starting things please come up front the very seat the other had just occupied.
So by taking the least important seat I was offered a chance to move up but the person who sought to show his importance was humbled.
This is just like Jesus advised, If you come to the banquet and seek the most important seat and your host needs it for another you will be humiliated. Forced to move off stage and into the audience where you will only be seen by those around you.
But when invited, anywhere we need to seek the lowest place, so that when the one who is hosting will notice us and say, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’
Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt they will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus may have given this advice two centuries ago but I hope and pray that each member of our consistory, Pastor, Elder or Deacon Weather active or in the greater consistory will listen to this absorb it and take one word away, humility. We must humble ourselves and then and only then will we be exalted.
Yet we all know Jesus and how he is not willing to leave it at one teaching so He shares this last bit of advice.
“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.
Instead when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Terri as a new deacon you will be called to help in a lot of ways. When you do please remember the words of Jesus on who you are to help. Do not just look to those who can repay you but to any who need your help. Now I wanted to share one last pithy bit of advice with you this morning. Unfortunately after three days of intense concentration the pithy did not find me. That was until Friday morning while I was looking over the Our Daily Bread morning meditation. Than as God often does he gave me the final message for you today.
We who are in positions of leadership, who follow Christ are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). As such, our Lord calls us to lifestyles that honor Him. We honor God’s name when we call Him our Father and live like His children. The disciple Peter urged us to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” in other words, he was calling us to a behavior worthy of Christ. Our Daily Bread Friday August 26th 2016
This morning as you are installed you will be like Jesus called on to do ministry and finding yourself stepping into the spot light. Know that people will watch you and may even call actions you are doing into question. This is the time to know that as long as you are doing what God calls you to do it will work out in the end. Do not be afraid have faith and together we will dine at the banquet in our Lord’s heavenly kingdom. Amen