Saturday, September 3, 2016

Angels unaware


Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  KJV

I like that better…angels unaware….
I live in a building without air conditioning for many apartments.  Every night, the sidewalk is filled with folding chairs, coolers, people with plates of food, just hanging out, talking until late. My son is less shy than I. So he hangs out with the people too. too. People have gotten to know him. Given the current dynamics of the neighborhood, there is no reason to welcome us. In many ways, we are interlopers. But we have been made to feel welcome. It’s about hospitality. I learned that way back in divinity school when I worked fro a neighborhood legal aid office. Many of our coworkers loved in the projects. I learned that often it is the people with the least, or the most vulnerable, who share the most. It’s about hospitality.

I’ve felt that in my music experiences. Going places, even when there’s an already established community, I have been made to made to feel welcome. (In Louisville, at Stevie Ray’s Blues Club, I was welcomed like an old friend..). I’m proud that people have that experience here in our Open Mic on Friday nights…Dion and David and David see to it. There is always food and snacks. And  encouraging words. And welcome.

Our scriptures today ask and answer questions.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the people having traded their God for what is not god. Having changed for that  which does not profit. Having built cracked cisterns that do not hold water. I could talk a long time about that…especially in this election year…I’d say the bottom line here is they forgot hospitality…
There is quite a list in Hebrews…for us to pay attention to….
Those who are in prison…mass incarceration continues to be a major issue. …For many in my neighborhood it’s not school to college, it’s school to Rikers….(I always get rejected from juries because I have had members in prison…like the young woman who was on our steps….)
 Those who are being tortured….for one thing, it never works…people say what you want them to just to make it stop….and this deep into Obama’s 2nd term, Guantanamo continues…on and on…
And of course respect for marriage…
We are called to be free from the love of money….and it is interesting why… The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" Fear and anxiety about money can lead you to compromise yourself, your values, to keep the money coming…candidates…this is true not only of candidates and private citizens but also churches…
 The recent homeless  controversy here…at it’s roots, was all about money…last night as another clergy friend and I were talking, we spoke of our desire to be part of a radical Christianity…and wondered if that is even possible when you have to worry about  keeping a building going..and bills paid…
Finally, there is Jesus and his banquet story…we’ve all seen the charity banquets, the guest of honor in the place of honor. I sometimes wonder how many banquets Bernie Madoff was the guest of honor at…

Who’s on Jesus’ invitation list?
13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Who might you add to that list?  For years here it was the lgbtq community…today it would be the t’s, the transfolk…in our own time, after the expulsion from Zucotti Park, we welcomed the occupiers in all their idealism and craziness and…who do we welcome, need to welcome, today?
Do we really mean it?  Back up a second…before we even talk about outcasts, or as misfits, as Eugene Peterson calls them, do we extend hospitality to each other? Our own fellow members? Or let’s just  say everyday people…
I am happy about the first Sunday of every month meal we serve at the homeless shelter at SPSA….This is,as our menu planner and chef Kate says it so well, Everyone deserves Sunday dinner…no pizza or sandwiches from us…It’s a full course meal with a set table…this is Kate’s gift and she allows us to share in it….so even when she’s not there, others of our group pick up the ball and run with it..and maintain the tradition….
So have you ever seen an angel?  It troubles me all the time…when I think of those who annoy me…who I want to turn from…somewhow we have to see the face of Jesus in others and try to show then face of Jesus ourselves…so think back over the last week…any angels around you?

First Reading Jeremiah 2:4-13
4Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. 5Thus says the LORD: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? 6They did not say, "Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?" 7I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. 8The priests did not say, "Where is the LORD?" Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.
9Therefore once more I accuse you, says the LORD, and I accuse your children's children. 10Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look, send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has ever been such a thing. 11Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit. 12Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, 13for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16
1Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob.
10 I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
11 "But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13 O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
and their doom would last forever.
16 I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."
Second Reading Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
1Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. 4Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." 6So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?"
7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
15Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Gospel Luke 14:1, 7-14
1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7When he noticed how the guests 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; 9and 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. 10But 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. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
12He 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. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

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