Well, as we discussed in Bible Study this morning, the etiquette you learned at your favorite auntie’s knee about the proper placement of the salad fork and the correct way to open a door for an older person, is not the behavior expected or modeled by Jesus. The etiquette you learned as a child was to maintain social order. Every time you entered that well-known dining room with those familiar voices ringing around you, you know just which fork to grab, and you chewed your iceberg lettuce with your mouth closed, just as you had been taught.
But the rules suggested by Jesus, and then echoed in the Hebrews passage from the lectionary today seem intended not to maintain but to disrupt social situations. Jesus openly derides his hosts for what are, after all, faithful and prayerful practices. Then he turns on the guests, pointedly uncovering their their jostling for position.
Both gospel and the epistle advocate welcoming strangers to your feasts rather than those who you want to impress, pay back or hold something over. He does these things, our Lord and Savior, in spite of what he knows it will cost him –his very life. Jesus’ radical welcome is so very central to who he is, and to who we, his followers are called to be.
And yet, how many of us literally follow this passage in our homes, welcoming strangers to our private celebrations? And for how many of us has our worship hour become a private celebration, at which strangers are not actually welcomed, even if we pay them lip service?
Weigh in, friends and strangers. The comments are open.