The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Leaders and humility (Readings for Sunday, Sept. 2)

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Proper 17 (22), September 2, 2007
Luke 14:1,7-14; Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16; Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1,10-16

Once when I was a layman, a worship service concluded and I had a matter to discuss with my pastor. Making my way through the crowd, I scanned the auditorium, then the lobby—no luck. Though it took a while, I finally found him out in the entry, on his knees, talking to some toddlers (who could visit with him face to face in this position).

I learned so much from him. Even if a prestigious guest were in attendance, I’d notice afterwards that the guest could wait: my Pastor was in the lobby, down on the carpet, talking to the kids (or someone else who wasn’t your “important” social catch).

Now watch what Jesus has to say over dinner at the Bishop’s place in the first reading, just below. Ooh, I want to be like that!

Thanks for coming by!


Luke 14
One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. …
He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

“When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Hebrews 13
Jesus Doesn’t Change
Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you. Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.

Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,
God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?

Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself…
Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.
Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Jeremiah 2:4-13
4-6Hear God’s Message, House of Jacob!
Yes, you—House of Israel!
God’s Message: “What did your ancestors find fault with in me
that they drifted so far from me,
Took up with Sir Windbag
and turned into windbags themselves?

It never occurred to them to say, ‘Where’s God,
the God who got us out of Egypt,
Who took care of us through thick and thin, those rough-and-tumble
wilderness years of parched deserts and death valleys,
A land that no one who enters comes out of,
a cruel, inhospitable land?’

7-8″I brought you to a garden land
where you could eat lush fruit.
But you barged in and polluted my land,
trashed and defiled my dear land.
The priests never thought to ask, ‘Where’s God?’
The religion experts knew nothing of me.
The rulers defied me.
The prophets preached god Baal
And chased empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.

9-11″Because of all this, I’m bringing charges against you”
—God’s Decree—
“charging you and your children and your grandchildren.
Look around. Have you ever seen anything quite like this?
Sail to the western islands and look.
Travel to the Kedar wilderness and look.
Look closely. Has this ever happened before,
That a nation has traded in its gods
for gods that aren’t even close to gods?
But my people have traded my Glory
for empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.

12-13″Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see!
Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!”
God’s Decree.
“My people have committed a compound sin:
they’ve walked out on me, the fountain
Of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns—
cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 81
An Asaph Psalm
1-5 A song to our strong God! a shout to the God of Jacob! …
I’m God, your God, the very God
who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,
filled your hungry stomachs.

11-12 “But my people didn’t listen,
Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!
Do it your own way!’

13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,
give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,
never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread
spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

August 29, 2007 at 5:33 pm

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