Lord Jesus Christ, make those who love you, and who love you in return, mirrors of you to those who are unloving; that being drawn to your image they may reproduce it in themselves, light reflecting light, love kindling love, until God is all in all. Amen. After Christina Rossetti, 1894
Frank T. Griswold. Praying Our Days: A Guide and Companion (Kindle Locations 800-802). Kindle Edition.
September 1! NO way.
I am so not ready for the end of summer (in fact I am still on vacation as I write this,) but here we are. In the U.S. we will be celebrating Labor Day weekend, many of us are gearing up for a new program year, and kids have either returned to school or will be doing so in the next few days. My oldest granddaughter is starting kindergarten tomorrow! This weekend my congregation will be joining others in our deanery for an end of summer picnic and outdoor Eucharist, complete with baptism. Appropriately enough our RCL readings for this 15th Sunday after Pentecost focus (in part at least) on the theme of hospitality.
Our Hebrew scripture reading from the prophet Jeremiah finds Jeremiah voicing God’s lament that the people God brought out of Egypt have in essence abandoned the hospitality that awaited them in the promised land–both the abundance of the land and the largesse of God’s love. Instead they have defiled the land and worshipped false gods, exchanging “their glory for something that does not profit,” and digging out “cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns, that can hold no water.” How much do those charges apply to the ways we choose to live today?
Our new testament reading continues with the letter to the Hebrews. This section echoes the call to radical hospitality we hear in Jesus’ teaching in the gospels (it especially brings Matthew to mind for me, but perhaps that is because Matthew is my favorite gospel.) This passage also hearkens back to Abraham’s visit from the weary travelers, who were in fact angels in disguise. How often might we entertain angels unaware? And how often have we turned them away?
This week’s gospel finds Jesus under close scrutiny as he joins some Pharisees for a Sabbath meal. Sabbath meals were times for gathering together family and friends, and in a culture where status was extremely important, one can imagine that there might have been some jockeying for invitations, and for the seats of honor. Jesus wants no part of that; in fact in counsels the arriving guests to take the lowest seats, and advises his hosts that in the future they should invite not those who will reciprocate in kind, but rather the poor and lowly who have no way of returning the kindness. How often is our hospitality tied to at least an implicit expectation that we will get “credit” for it? And can we let go of that?
So where are you headed on this first Sunday in September? Are you winding up a summer series? Having a fall kick off? Riffing off Labor Day? Perhaps you’ll choose the alternative readings from Sirach or Proverbs or focus on a psalm. Join the conversation whether you have questions, inspiration, or just want to say hi! The welcome mat is out, and the coffee is on!