See, I have to preach a freakin' sermon tomorrow. Tomorrow. I think I might die. Crucify me now. Well, don't actually. I hate atonement. That would be indeed a cruel fate for me.
Anna Carter Florence gave us all of these fun ideas about how to attend to the text. I really wanted fantastic new ideas but it turns out that my seminary preaching professor should be idolized in the way that I idolize her. However, Anna left out blogging. And this is honestly how I process my thoughts. So, here we go.
The text is for Labor Day -- the official Sunday of Associate Pastor preaching. It's the gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14. And it has a parable that is a non-parable. This fact alone boggles my mind. I have no idea what to do with this.
Then there is this whole thing about meals which makes me daydream about Hal Taussig -- one of my other favorite seminary professors. He was all about the meal. Ignoring the interjectory that happens in verses 2-6, we jump right into this meal where people are vying for the best seat. I can only imagine this as a game of musical chairs where someone is inevitably left out. Is this one in the lowest as in v. 10? Are we supposed to tell this poor child, "Friend, move up higher"? Wait. Stop. I hate this heirarchy stuff. Why must there be someone high and someone low? Moreover, how does that happen when they are all reclining? That doesn't make sense to me at all. Someone explain this to me.
The New Interpreter's Bible points out that the first three verses (7-11) are directed to the guests which copy each other:
14:8 "When you are invited ... do not sit down ... in case ...
14:10a But when you are invited ... sit down ... so that ...
14:10b then you will be honored
14:11 wordy eschatological stuff.
But then in the following verses (12-14), Jesus is talking to the host with this same strange pattern:
14:12 "When you give a luncheon or a dinner ... do not invite ... in case ...
14:13 But when you give a banquet ... invite
14:14a And you will be blessed,
14:14b wordy eschatological stuff.
So what the hell do I do with that? I'm not sure. I really have no idea. And you can tell that I have weird aggression because I have to preach this tomorrow. Damn it. But, here is what I'm thinking about. I'm wondering about the host and if God is who we imagine to be our host (as it will be a Communion Sunday), what does this mean in this weirdo parable? Of course God will be blessed! Obviously! And God better be serving a whole lotta meals. But, while the host is doing the inviting (and obviously God is going to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind), what is all this moving around we are doing? Why are we trying to sit next to?
I'm thinking about healthcare. I'm thinking about Michael Moore's realization. I'm thinking about our church's outreach ministry. All of that stuff that prevents us from being together -- because we are so concerned about status and place. What does this all mean when we come to the table?
Because we better be invited as this is an open table in the UCC. All are welcome. God is doing the inviting. But, we're all moving around. I feel like Jesus should turn to the one that gets pushed out of this vicious game of musical chairs and say those words that we say to make it all better (you know what they are). But, he doesn't. He talks to us all. I just can't quite figure out what this means for me. Right now. And I have to preach this tomorrow. Arg.