November 26, 2022

God’s Hospitality 28-08-2022

28th August 2022 (Pentecost 12)
Sermon Title: God’s Hospitality
(Psalm 81:1, 10–16 & Luke 14:1, 7–14

                                                                                      By Heeyoung Lim 

After Jesus challenges the rules about healing on the Sabbath, he challenges the way people exalt themselves and then gives instructions about who to invite to a banquet. (v. 7-11)

In Jesus’ time, dinners were not just meals but social events that bonded people of similar status together. People could find out who had been invited before accepting an invitation and expected to eat with their social equals. In people’s perspectives, if the “wrong” people would be invited, many potential guests made excuses and declined the invitation. Some people declined the invitation if they felt that they could not give back the hospitality. The seating arrangement was crucial to them and offering less was shameful to the host in those times. 

In this Bible story, the original hosts are the upper-class Jews who were so tied to their social status and ignored God. God rejected them and turned to the ones they looked down to find adequate guests for the heavenly banquet. We cannot say that their places have been reserved in the heavenly feast. Their attitude can cause them to miss God’s final heavenly banquet, or they would never participate in His banquet due to their worldly values. May we care more for others’ needs than for our own desires and reputation. Jesus wants us to participate in a glorious banquet through faith, hope, and loving hospitality. 

In accordance with Jesus’ parable based on what was happening in the banquet, if we try to gain honour for ourselves, we will be humiliated. But if we are humble, then we will receive great honour. May we act with humility, not pride, in every situation, looking at Jesus. Jesus wants us to invite those who are unable to pay us back and to find the names of the poor, the injured, and the needy. Everyone deserves an invitation to a loving table. However, no one ever honours them with a dinner in those days. May we reverse the world’s way and invite those who are in need to our banquet.

In verse 14, Jesus continued. “Instead, you are doing this for God. When you do things his way, He repays you.” I believe that eternal glory will be given to us if we believe in Jesus and share God’s hospitality here. God will give you His heavenly blessings, and you will be rewarded by God. May we not limit God’s hospitality in our lives.

God asks us to live in the culture of the kingdom of God through our everyday acts toward each other and in and through our relationship with God and creation. In the relationship with God’s creation, we are responsible for climate change action in our lives, I believe that we are striving to do climate action in our daily lives, doing our best to protect and take good care of God’s creation. May we receive more heavenly blessing that invites us to grow into a deeper relationship with God and others. Jesus wants us to understand that our all-human drive to seek the best seat in a place is not genuine participation in God’s mercy or love.

Many Christians want to be a blessing to others, but being a blessing is not easy. Instead, sharing blessings with others or displaying the blessings we have received is relatively easier than being a blessing. Jesus is highlighting the ways in which the realm of God establishes its own social and spiritual order.

Jesus uses this occasion to describe the reign of God. There are reversals in the gospel of Luke. God’s reign is not about measuring up but about being invited by God. Jesus tells the host to invite people of low social status who cannot reciprocate the invitation. He also teaches the host to invite those who could not possibly return the favour. The reign of God is marked by true generosity, like the generosity God pours out on all. Although we cannot even begin to repay God’s hospitality, may we respond to God’s compassion and mercy in our daily living.

In Psalm 81, Asaph calls God’s people to rejoice in God who has blessed them, to remember their past deliverance by the Lord, and to repent as to they do not appreciate His blessings. (1) Asaph urged the people, “Sing for joy to God our strength”. Just as God had provided for them earlier in their wilderness wanderings. He said and promised, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”. God’s hospitality is unlimited, and He wants to fill us with his blessings and tells us to open our mouth wide.

In contrast to the gracious works of God, Israel was stubborn and would not listen to him. Verses 10–16 contrasts God’s gracious hospitality with the people’s rebelliousness and unwillingness to listen. In verse 16, God’s hospitality needs to be read through the lens of the Exodus. The people grumbled in the wilderness, demanding proof of God’s presence. God generously fed them manna, and water flowed from the rock when they wanted water. (Exodus 16 &17) In Psalm 81, God the host goes beyond the people’s request or demands, and they are promised by God the finest wheat and honey from the rock. God’s covenant is the foundation of the blessing that frames righteous living, and our salvation through Jesus is based on God’s hospitality. 

In Luke’s gospel, Christ calls us to set such an open table, to invite all people to experience life shaped by God’s inclusive and compassionate love. What does it mean to be invited to live in God’s reign? We are invited not because of what we have or what we do for a living, but simply because we are God’s children by our faith. In what ways do our lives demonstrate our response to this invitation?

Jesus’ words about exalting and humbling and being invited can lead us to be humbler and to let us to walk into the place of the lowest. May we extend genuine hospitality to the least of the uninvited through acts of unselfish hospitality and kindness and to be true blessings to others in the love of God. Jesus himself shows humbleness, and God calls us to serve the needy. Personal humility marks the person who is dedicated to God. May we trust God to provide our needs now and our rewards later and look for rewards from God, not from people on the earth.

We are the holders of God’s love and grace with the power to welcome and extend God’s gifts to those outside the church. We are also both the receivers and the givers of God’s love. May we share God’s gifts with those gathered here and those outside. Through ritual, prayers, and the celebration of Communion, may we pray that all encounter the boundlessness of God’s reign.

God brings and invites different people together and lets them overcome cultural and generational differences and all kinds of barriers in Christ. We are called by God to be an authentic community when Jesus depicts the culture of God’s kingdom and paints a picture of an open table where all are invited and where there is enough for all. God’s hospitality is unlimited, and He wants to fill us with his blessings. The kingdom of God belongs to those who are humbly dedicated to him. Dedication to Jesus and the kingdom of God reveals life that reverses the world’s values, shows persistent obedience to Christ, and testify confident hope in the resurrection. May we make participation in God’s kingdom our desire.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)