Jeremiah 2:4-13. God speaks out against God’s people who have forgotten God’s salvation and turned to other gods – God’s people have abandoned God who is the fountain of living water and have dug cracked cisterns for themselves.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16. God brought Israel out of Egypt, and longs for Israel to listen to God and follow God’s ways, but they want nothing to do with God.
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. Words to live by: Love one another and be hospitable, share the pain of those who suffer, be faithful in marriage, be content with what you have and follow the example of faithful leaders.
Luke 14:1, 7-14. Jesus advises his followers not to take places of honour at feasts, in case they be asked to move and are humiliated. Rather, he invites them to take seats at the foot of the table, so that if they are invited to a better place, they will be honoured. Further, when hosting dinners, he encourages them to invite those who cannot repay – the marginalised and rejected.
Rev Tania writes.
One word, perhaps, sum up the Lectionary readings this week: humility. In the face of a culture in which we are all encouraged to ‘value ourselves’, to ‘reach for what we want’ and to ‘not let anyone stop us’, this can be a difficult, even ridiculous, word. To claim that true, vibrant, authentic life is found in simplicity, fidelity, contentment and humility sounds naive and out of touch. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus asks us to believe – and to embrace – this week.
Pride leads God’s people to turn to their own resources and reject God’s ways and God’s resources (Jeremiah & Psalm 81). The result of this is inevitable failure or harm or the humiliation of being turned away from sought-after places of honour that we do not ‘deserve’ (Luke). Rather, honour and fullness of life are found in a humble commitment to following God’s ways, remaining faithful and trusting, and living with grace, generosity, compassion, fidelity, and inclusive hospitality (Hebrews and Luke).
In our celebrity-obsessed world, the quest for recognition, influence, wealth, fame and the praise of others drives all too many of us. Ultimately, this pride-filled drivenness leads us into conflict and destructiveness, as all of life becomes a game of winners and losers. The great narratives of different faiths are then placed in competition with each other for the ‘honour’ of being the ‘ultimate truth’. The priorities of nations are placed into conflict as politicians wrestle to find a place in the corridors of world power, while their people’s needs are used as bargaining chips or forgotten altogether. Values, integrity and fidelity all end up being expendable as success, victory or popularity become the ends which justify any means. And, as this driven, competitive way of being spreads through the world, we all pay the price in increasing rates of divorce, heart (and other) disease, conflict and inequality. But, of course, those who end up paying the most are those at the ‘bottom’ of the game – the innocent losers. Into all of this a simple word of justice speaks – humility can heal our world. As we learn, individually, nationally and globally, to live with simplicity, contentment, respect and integrity – and expect the same from our leaders and our corporations – the game of winners of losers begins to shift to a playful, collaborative game of shared benefit. And then, our eyes are opened to the fullness of life that is found in the hidden, poor and forgotten places – places that the rich and wealthy never see. This call to a healing humility is the focus of our meditations this week.
Blessings as we seek to live a Gospel-centered life! Rev Tania