Last Sunday Fr Carey asked me if I would bring the message this morning. “Sure!” So Tuesday morning as I am thinking about what in the heck I am going to say I am watching the morning news – the devastating flood in Texas. This is on top of the Washington D.C. mayor asking for troops to help with the flood of refugees Texas is busing to Washington on top of the flood of refugees coming across the border into Texas from Mexico. On top of a war in Eastern Europe where the invader’s strategy seems to be bombing civilians in their homes, apartments, schools and hospitals…and I haven’t mentioned You Know Who and the raid at Mar- A Largo…

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone, somewhere, would come to the microphone and say, “Folks, I’m glad you’re here this morning. This morning I’m going to explain the ‘why’ of all this stuff that is happening – and not only that, I’m going to give you the solution….”

We’ve just heard a reading from the Gospel and where is Jesus?
Jesus is at a party.

It must have been some party.

It was.

You remember that party we had at church that time? You remember that rich guy? He got up in church one Sunday after Fr Carey had asked if anyone else had an announcement. He said he was inviting everyone to his home that night for a party. He said bring your family, even bring your friends if you like – there’s plenty of room and we’ve got plenty of food!

And, hey, a lot of people came. Some people I’ve never seen in church before. I guess word had gotten around. Jerry and Mary Ann had invited that neighbor of theirs who pastors a small church down by the river. You know, the one that serves a special group of those people. You know, the ones with problems. And he had invited a friend, a sort of country looking fellow. Someone said he was a preacher – probably on street corners.

So many came – even one of our members who wasn’t in too good of health – Joe something I think his name was. He didn’t look good that night – legs swollen, arms swollen. He looked really bad.

Well, the party was going great – plenty of food, music was loud…

Then this country looking fellow – someone said his name was Joshua or something – started talking real loud. He got our attention. The room was still.

“Joe here is sick – real sick. Want me to heal him right now on a Sunday night? No license, never spent a day in Med School.

“Do you mind?

No one said a word.

“Get Joe up on the table,” as he looked at three guys standing by a table. They quickly swept everything off the top of the table – dishes, glasses, plates of cold cuts, even the beautiful flower centerpiece.

Joe looked pale, ashen, almost dead.

Then the country fellow put his hand on Joe’s forehead, said a few words. We weren’t close enough to hear what he said.

A long moment passed.

Then Joe got up – big smile on his face, almost laughing, smiling to each one of us – he looked like the picture of good health – he walked quickly to the door, opened it and walked out.

No one said a word.

“You know, I’ve been watching you folks all evening. And I’ve been watching that little dance you do to try to sit at the table with the rich guy and his wive. I really chuckled when one of you just sat at his table without a ‘by your leave.’ Then he came around and said something to them. They up pretty quick and got out. And what was really funny I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

“Hey, when you go to a party, don’t show out and try to sit at the head table. Sit at a table in the back. Maybe the host will notice you and invite you to his table. At least you won’t get embarrassed

Then the country fellow walked over to the rich guy.

“You know, you think you’re special. You’re not.

“You expect to get back something from everyone who’s here. you think half will invite you to their parties, and you expect favors from everyone else.

“When you give a party invite the poor, the cripples, the lame and the blind.

“And you will be blessed.

Well, that’s my paraphrase of our Gospel reading this morning. The part about Joe comes from Verses 2-6 of Chapter 14. When you go home today read all of Chapters 14 and 15 of Luke. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem – on his way to his death. And that is very much on his mind. He is giving final instructions to his disciples and friends – and us. Yet these two chapters are filled with parties.

It begins with the party we’ve just described. A party at which – at least to the host – Jesus is worst guest you can imagine. One guest becomes deathly ill with dropsy. Jesus gives a lecture and heals the guy. Then he lectures everyone about etiquette at big parties like this encouraging humility. Sit at an inconspicuous place and the host will come and ask you to sit at the table of honor.

Then he goes to the host – the one who is paying for all of this – and tells him who he should invite – the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.

Reading further into Chapters 14 and 15, you will read the parable of the Great Banquet then the parable of the lost sheep. What does the shepherd do when he finds the lost sheep? He has a party. Then the parable of the lost coin. What does the woman do who finds the lost coin? She calls her friends and neighbors and has a party.

This sort of culminates in the parable of the lost son – by what name do we know this lost son? The prodigal son. And what does the father do when this son – this lost son – finally returns. The father directs that the fatted calf be killed and they have a great big party!

What was the First Sign – one of the first miracles of Jesus? The Wedding at Cana.

The miracle at the wedding of a poor couple in a small village in an out of the way country, so poor that they run out of wine for their wedding feast and Jesus turns the water into wine – the finest wine. Oh, what a party that must have been!

I lived and worked for a number of years in Kansas. I joined the Episcopal church there.

Because of traveling and other reasons I started going to a mid-week morning service held at 7:00 on Wednesdays.

One week someone brought do-nuts. A couple of weeks later someone brought homemade Danish. Then everyone wanted to bring something. Soon, someone was in charge of the roster. For many of us that time of worship, good fellowship, became sort of the highlight of the week. Our service had become a party.

The Monday night study group always has interesting books that the group discusses. But there are always refreshments and fellowship and good conversation – it is very much an enjoyable party.

On Tuesday morning we have a staff meeting, Sometimes if I get here early I visit with the volunteers at our Clothes Closet. I enjoy visiting with them because they enjoy being there and being of help. I notice that those who come enjoy coming not only for the clothes but also because of the friendly greeting and helpfulness.

We say that Jesus loves us.

And during the church year we will talk much of the evidences of his great love for us. His death by Crucifixion, His resurrection.

Maybe sometimes it’s good to remember that he just enjoyed being with us, being at parties, sharing good times with us – laughing, telling stories…

And maybe that’s an important part of how we live our faith –

Just enjoying life with others, face to face, giving or receiving a hug sometimes, laughing – sometimes crying with a friend when we need to…

Maybe even partying…

Let mutual love continue, the writer of Hebrews tells us…

Show hospitality to strangers, for by [so] doing…some have entertained angels without knowing it…

 

Amen.

Richard Robertson