Feasting and Putting Folks in Their Place
By Donald McKenzie
August 29, 2022
Feasting is one of the main themes in yesterday’s Gospel reading.
The lections for this Sunday are at Vanderbilt Divinity Lectionary. We used the Jeremiah, Psalm 81, Hebrews, and Luke readings. The verses I refer to that weren’t part of the lection are the following:
2 Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had edema. 3 And Jesus asked the experts in the law and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they were silent. So Jesus[b] took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child[c] or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not reply to this.
Here is the text of my sermon of feasting:
Let us pray. May the words in my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts be acceptable in your site, oh Lord our strength and our redeemer.
Today’s Gospel talks about feasting. Feasting goes back to as soon as people started gathering together. For the months, when you came along, and there was a big sudden amount of food that you hadn’t expected, you ate it, and you eat it all.
Because you’re not going to be able to refrigerate it, you’re not going to be able to take it with you. So you’d have your feasts, giving you energy to go for those days when you might not have that much food. But almost as long maybe as long as there been feasting, in terms of eating lots of food, feasting has been a way of putting people in their places.
Letting them know where they belong, in the pecking order. You start off with the person throwing the feast. And the person, when you think of this, think of it, it’s like getting a bank loan.
What’s the easiest way to get a bank laon? Prove that you don’t need a bank. If you’ve got everything now, then maybe we’ll give you a loan.
So the person throwing the feast is showing their status by having this feast. And then when you get to the feast, everybody has a proper place. And the higher you rank on the social scale, the closer you get to the post. Further away, you might get a seat but no table, you might end up standing,
Eventually the servers will get fed. And then anything that’s left over will be sort of distributed to the people on the outside.
the nature of the feast
That’s standard feasting practice. And, of course, you’re expected to behave in certain ways. When you come to me, one of the reasons we have a kids table in our big family dinners, is because, well, yes, they do like each other’s company.
But kids, and the younger they are the more this is the case, you know, they have that way of just sort of speaking their mind, and doing whatever they feel like doing. And that can sort of upset some of the balance at the dinner table.
So when you’re invited to a feast, you have to know your place. And Jesus talks about this. But before I do that, talk about that…We skip a few verses in this reading. And that’s because there’s a healing story. Very similar to the healing story that we have. In last week’s gospel.
There’s a man who comes in. And he has, in our modern translations, it says he has an edema, which is a nice, clinical, medical term that takes away the moral implications. But the problem with that, is in the biblical texts, it’s the moral implications that matter. This man who is coming in has a condition, which might mean he doesn’t know when his thirst is sated.
He can just keep drinking and drinking and drinking and his body’s telling him he still needs more liquid. Well, if you’re in a feast, and they’re serving wine, you can see what that might cause a problem somewhere down the road. But also the replicants of the Pharisee and it’s the SAP and this man is considered unclean. He’s not the kind of person we want to have feasting with us.
He doesn’t belong. So Jesus heals them Just like last week, when the woman is healed on the Sabbath, and can enter into Sabbath rest, this man has healed. And now he can join in and experience the fullness of the feast. He’s gone from being outside, to being inside, to belonging.
Feasting and finding our place
Feasting can happen at any time or in any place.
Now one thing and this is not original with me. One thing if you notice the stories of Jesus, when he goes to people’s houses to eat, he’s not a really good dinner guest.
Jesus is there. He’s watching all the people. And he’s seeing these people, everybody’s trying to get the best seats, because they want to make everybody else think that they’re the most important. And what does Jesus do? Well, he actually brings this up. He forgets the social niceties.
He says, you know, here’s the thing, when you go to a feast, don’t go taking the best seats, take a lower seat, the host will recognize your work. And in doing so, might invite you up higher Well, alright. But if you take the big seats, or the seats closest to the host, the host is going to come along, saying, oh, you know, our local MP arrived, you have to sit down because the local MP is more important than you.
A different type of feast
Sit back there, and you’re going to be embarrassed in front of everybody as you have to walk down. So just take the lower seat. Then, having said that, Jesus turns to the host and says, you know, nice group of people you’ve got here. Next time, when you host this kind of a banquet, don’t do it like this one.
Because, you know, they might invite you back, which is really how the system worked. Actually, you invited people, your place they might invite you back to theirs. And that’s how you build up your credibility that’s built up your wealth. That’s how you build up your standards.
And Jesus says, don’t invite these people. Invite the cripple, blind people who can’t pay you back. But they’re also not, they’re also more than just people that can’t pay you back. They’re also people that, according to the religious standard of the day, are people who should be excluded.
If you’re poor, if you’re sick, there is something morally wrong. That’s the perfect prevailing energy. And Jesus says all these people that you want to keep out that’s the the people that you might give a few leftovers to, again, seat them at the table. Treat them as if they weren’t the most important people in your neighborhood and in your community.
overturning the system
That’s a complete overturning of how the system is supposed to work. We are called to make sure that our doors are open. And our tables are set in such a way that everybody is welcome. We discussed this a few weeks ago, in our book study of Rowan Williams. Books on the Christian basics.
When we come to the table here(I faced the eucharistic table), and we looked around the person to the right To the left of us we need to remember that they are at that table because Jesus has invited them. Jesus wants to be feasting with them.
All of these things should be an extension of this table .we should be showing the same love that God shows to us the same welcome that God shows to us
Today we’re welcoming Rohan into this community through baptism. Baptism is God’s invitation to God’s community and the question for us is what kind of community are we going to welcome Rohan into?
Our plan very our we want them to get up to date inviting and welcoming community. Are we welcoming him into a community that says the people that most of society wants to turn away from the door are welcome and have a seat at the table.
They have a seat at the table, and there should be no children’s table in the church. This should be normal, where you know that sometimes their behaviors are just a little bit suspect. You know, they’ll say something that we’re going to be uncomfortable with. This is also true of priests, although we get to call it a sermon. We don’t want a community where all are not welcome.
It is the feasting that Christ has set. It is the feast where all are fed. This is a feast where all are welcome are we providing him just like Jesus did for the man with the edema, so that the man could enter and participate in the feast.
As we welcome people into our community through baptism, are we welcoming them into the fullness of the community are we overturning what our society says is the socially acceptable form of gathering and in its place, putting the feasts that God has welcomed all of us to. Let us continue to make feasting at Christ’s table a priority.
More posts celebrating the feast
- Aliens are Welcome at Thanksgiving Dinner
- The Hunger for Home
- Holy Trinity Fall Supper
- By Bread Alone
- Sharing the Feast