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Sermon August 28 2022

Pentecost 12 C 2022 Table Etiquette

Luke 14:1, 7-14


Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

What did table etiquette look like at the home where you grew up?  Did you have assigned seating at the kitchen table, or could you sit wherever you wanted?  Were you allowed to have the TV on, or did your parents insist that the TV be turned off while you ate? 

Could you speak with your mouth full of food, or did you have to swallow before you spoke?  Could you wave your utensils around freely, or were you required to keep them under control at all times?   Did you all eat together at the same time at the same table, or did you eat at different times or different rooms according to your busy schedule? 

Depending upon where you grew up and your age, the table etiquette that was practiced at the dinner table when you grew up could look very different from the table etiquette of the person sitting in the pew next to you this morning.   

So, to be current and up to date, I googled “Table Etiquette” and discovered the current top ten table etiquette rules that are suggested that we follow.  Here they are… 

  1. Chew with your mouth closed.
  2. Keep your smartphone off the table and set it to silent or vibrate.
  3. Hold utensils correctly. Don’t use your fork or spoon like a shovel or stab your food.
  4. Wash up and come to the table clean.
  5. Remember to use your napkin.
  6. Wait until you are done chewing to sip or swallow a drink.
  7. Pace yourself with fellow diners. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
  8. Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table.
  9. Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
  10. Bring your best self to the meal. Take part in the dinner conversation.  

Well, there you have it.  The Top Ten Table Etiquette rules for us to follow in the year 2022. 

Now, it may seem odd that we would discuss table etiquette during a sermon, but that is the location of our sermon text for today.  It was the Sabbath, and Jesus had entered the home of a ruler of the Pharisees. After observing the guests jostle for positions of honor at the banquet, Jesus told them a parable about none other than table etiquette. 

Jesus said to them: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.” 

But when you are invited, go and sit in 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.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”’ 

Let me ask you this.  Can you imagine walking into a wedding banquet hall and witnessing a bunch of people jockeying for a seat of honor at the dinner table?  It’s a hard thing to picture, what, with how civilized we are today.  We would never jockey for a position in life, now, would we? 

Unfortunately, we still jockey for position in the 21st Century.  Have you ever found yourself in competition with someone at work?  Or have you ever tried to get noticed at work so you can get a raise, or a promotion?  

Students, have you ever been consumed with popularity, so much so, that you started a rumor or put someone down in order to climb the social ladder?    

And what about in our family life?  Have you ever tried to jockey for position and status before your mom or your dad?  Have you ever thought that your sibling(s) received better treatment than you did from your parents?    

And athletes, what lengths have you gone to get noticed by the coach so you could get more playing time?  Did it come at the expense of another teammate?  Did you try to bring your teammate down while lifting yourself up in the eyes of the coach?   

Yes, we still jockey for position today.  But Jesus made it very clear throughout His ministry that He was not like the Pharisees and that He did not need to jockey for position. 

Right from His birth, His presence among us was not meant for honor.  He was born in a stable and slept in a manger.  Feed, hay, manure, this was the setting where the Son of God came first to serve us.    

Jesus left the Halls of Heaven where He was seated at the finest banquet and humbled Himself by becoming one of us.        II Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21 explains “He who knew no sin became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”    

Jesus positioned Himself in the lowest of places and counted Himself among sinners.  In fact, He lowered Himself to the point that the Pharisees often found Jesus eating with the tax collectors and prostitutes.  And this angered them very much. 

When Jesus went to call Levi (Matthew) to be one of His disciples, the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:30-31 

You see, the way that we jockey for position to elevate ourselves in this life puts us right in line with the Pharisees who failed to see the truth sitting right in front of them.  They were sinners in need of a Savior, and the Savior was standing right there. 

So, what does this all have to do with us?  The Good News is that though we are sinners, and though we are like the tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus chooses to dine with us.  He welcomes us, and when we come, He exalts us to sit right next to Him.  

Our road is one of humility as we sit with the One who came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.  Matthew 20:28 

My friends, as Jesus invites us to come and dine with Him, may we be emboldened in our table etiquette to humble ourselves so that others may know the redeeming activity of Jesus Christ our Lord and hear the invitation to come and dine at God’s Heavenly Feast.  Amen.      

Let us pray:  O God, we thank you for your Son who chose the path of suffering for the sake of the world.  Humble us by his example, point us to the path of obedience, and give us strength to follow his commands.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.