Sunday, 28 August 2016

Entertaining Angels
Pentecost 15 year C Sermon Luke 14:1-14, Hebrews 13:1-2

Celtic Rune slide
The Celtic rune of hospitality
I saw a stranger yestereen.
I put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place. [pause]
And in the sacred name of the Triune
He blessed myself and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones. [pause]
And the lark said in her song:
Often, often, often, goes the Christ…
In the stranger’s guise

John Chrysostom slide
A quote from St John Chrysostom… echoes this
If you can’t find Christ in the beggar at the church door
you won’t find Him in the chalice

Letter to the Hebrew’s slide
As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us today
Don’t forget
to show hospitality
to strangers,
for by so doing
some people have shown hospitality to angels
without knowing it.

Entertaining angels slide
Regardless of whether you believe in angels…I’m sure you can hear that each of these is poetically trying to capture something about the will of God…something about the Kingdom of God…and our place in it as it breaks in…to our human dimension of time and space.

Jesus does the same thing in our Gospel reading today… invoking an image of the God’s kingdom…
and once again…he uses a banquet to do it…

Banquet slide
He’s the guest of course…he’s also a stranger who wanders around teaching…what the breaking in of God’s reign looks like.

And by the way…if you’re in any doubt about that…
it’s clear from Jesus’ teaching…
that the Kingdom looks like seriously good news…like a party even…particularly if you’re one of the lost and the least…
the broken and unclean.

There’s a sense in which Jesus is teaching about etiquette…for living in God’s dimension…which he insists is at hand…

when you’re a guest in God’s kingdom…and if you care about …being a good guest…well…just be grateful you’re invited …don’t assume you’ve got a special place… above anyone else.

And as a host…well…

model yourself on the ultimate host.
When you offer hospitality, don’t just invite people who can invite you back…but when you give a banquet…

Poor cripple word slide
just like the ultimate host…
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

And you will be blessed…Why?
Because they can’t repay you…that’s true generosity…true graciousness… just like you’ll find in God’s dimension.

So be clear…Jesus instructs…you are offer hospitality without strings… just as God offers you. [pause]

Eastbourne slide
So how are we doing…here in Eastbourne…As a church here at St Ronan’s? How are we doing as neighbours?

Oh don’t be silly Diane…

The poor the cripple and the lame and the blind
that’s not Eastbourne…

you can’t compare that story to Eastbourne…to our church…
to my neighbourhood. [pause]

Oh yes I can…and so can you…so can we…in fact we’re supposed to do it! It’s called doing contextual theology…
talking about God in our context.

You already know that to preach a sermon I have to exegete
a biblical text…I have to analyse it…

To apply Jesus teaching to our lives today…to our context…
we have to exegete our own community…we have to ask questions about it…God sort of questions...Contextual theology sort of questions…

That is if we want to apply Jesus teaching…to our lives where we are…and to our life as a faith community in Eastbourne…

And I’m sure we do…If we aspire to show the hospitality of Christ in this community …in this neighbourhood…then we need to build a contextual bridge between Jesus teaching to those first century Pharisee’s and our community in 2016 Aotearoa…

to the Pharisees…Jesus’ list of who to invite…next time…
the poor beggar, the crippled, the lame, and the blind…
were unclean…their afflictions viewed… as evidence of sin… unclean…

To build a contextual bridge with our community in Eastbourne that’s faithful to Jesus’ intensions… we have to ask ourselves – who are the people in Eastbourne we’d normally exclude…
as unclean…or ‘sinful’ or strange…or to be avoided?

Let’s take a little time with that…Talk to those closest to you…
Can you think of any people or groups in Eastbourne who might fall into those categories?


White Board…

If they get stuck ask who are the people or groups who might think they’re not welcome or worthy?

When St Ronan’s make plans to offer an event of hospitality to our community…what’s our motivation…  [Don’t forget mainly music…no strings attached!]


White board

How deliberate are we to include people who might not think they’d be welcome? Why?

Ok…these are things we might think about in the year ahead as we make our plans. We live here…we know from Jesus’ teaching how we are to live…how we are to show the hospitality of the Kingdome of God.

Angel slide
So let us pray.

Bless us with strangers, Lord. Bring before us, in our midst, the presence of Your Presence, in the frame of the Familiar Stranger. Bring the thought of them to our minds, with Your sweet Presence. Help us we imagine what might become. In faith we ask that you cast them bodily into the light of our day, and make them Your messenger to us, by some bizarre God-incidence. And cause them to be blessed as we are blessed, perhaps even seeing you in us, as you in us unite, and as we both partake of that gift that can only come from You.

Make me to see as they depart us, as they skip a merry tune,
the vision of that resonating truth in the warble of the lark.

Often, often, often, goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise. In his name AMEN.[i]

Let us sing Korowai Tapu…

[i] Adapted from a prayer by Steve Wickham.