Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sermon: Worst Dinner Party Ever!

Worst Dinner Party Ever!

         Let me tell you, it was the worst dinner party ever.
         There was this guy there…
This guy! He had no manners…
he acted like he was raised in a barn…
or at least born in one.

He was unconcerned with how he made all of us feel, he didn’t know the right fork to use for each course…
he coarsely called in a stray man from the street,
called out the guests for our seating arrangements
called out the host for his guest list.
Then he all but disinvited us to the cosmic banquet…

Let us pray.

         As I said, no manners, this man.
         Most of us knew Jesus could be trouble, he’d picked arguments before about the Sabbath at meals, and last night was no exception.
         We were all just finished milling about and had begun to recline
—the appetizers had just arrived, Jalapeno Poppers and IKEA style Meatballs… the poppers were good,
the meatballs… not good, but  addicting… I don’t’ know how they do that…
         Then, out of no where, a man, malformed bulging watery hands and feet—they looked like fleshy water balloons…
He fell down beside Jesus, right there as I was popping another Meatball into my mouth!
         And Jesus picked his usual fight with the other Pharisees, “if it is permissible on the Sabbath to act to save little things, children and animals—shouldn’t it be permissible to heal this man with Dropsy?”
         I mean, who brings something like that up as a dinner conversation?
For that matter, who brings such an uninvited, unappetizing visitor into the midst of someone else’s soiree?
         He healed the man, gross sounds of water giving way and…
all of that…
really took down the ambiance a notch!

         Then things kinda settled down,
we finished the first course, and soon enough the unpleasantness with the healing and argument was forgotten.
         As the main course, Salmon and Chicken Parm with grilled green beans sopped in butter, slid onto our tables… he was at it again… this Jesus.

         He slid off his couch and came to the center of the room
—the table I was at, in fact! (Not to brag or anything)
         There he asked us if we’d read Proverbs.
         We of course said yes, so he responded:
 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.
But when you are invited, go and sit down at 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 all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

         I suppose that is A reading of Proverbs 25, though I’d point out that was about being at a king’s court, not applicable at ALL! to our situation if you ask me.
         I, of course, understand humility is important…
in fact, I’m probably the most humble person I know and you’ll ever meet!
         But to get right in our faces
—the faces of us in the good seats,
the rightful center of attention,
it’s embarrassing, that carpenter calling to task his betters…

         That would have been bad enough, but then he blindsided the host:
 “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
         Rrriightt! Jesus—like that’s practical…
the whole point of get togethers it to get one over on someone else…
to make contacts,
to touch the live wire of influence and flaunt what you got so you can get some more.
We weren’t eating chicken last night, we were eating each other and washing it down with quid pro quo… that’s life man!

         Not even the extremely religious at the table were buying what Jesus was selling, one of those desert dwellers quoted from Qumran saying, “No man with a physical handicap—crippled, lame, blind, deaf, dumb, blemished, or a doddering old man,” can eat with us.

         After all, how would this kind of hospitality Jesus was talking about work?
I mean, think of all the logistical things a host would have to do!
 They’d have to be a saint wouldn’t they?
Extra work for no repayment? Madness!
         Speaking of madness, think of how his two commandments here about eating together sort of
short circuit each other,
or at least make everything all backwards.
-If everyone is a beggar, who gets the central seat?
-Who gets to be honored if everyone who is dishonored by our society is invited in?
         Imagine what it would be like
—surrounded by people who all know they are vulnerable,
that they got in through no fault of their own,
fed simply because feeding people is what happens at a meal!
No pretenses,
no ulterior motives,
just being together,
basking in a bountiful meal provided by a gracious host!
         Sickening, am I right?

         Well, we talked Jesus down and got back to the business of polishing off our main course. Belts were loosened, belches were shared, and in came the dessert! Tiramisu and Cheesecake,
coffee cups clinking,
caffeine cleansing our minds of Jesus’ insult…
         Alas, there was a third course of Jesus at this meal too.
Someone set him off about the “Kingdom of God” and he told this story about all the self-assured people like us being invited to a banquet, and all RSVPing NO!
Then a second time he went on about “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” …
It’s like an obsession with him or something…
and he told us that they all were invited, since the first flight of people
—the upper crust,
the better half
—wouldn’t come.
Then even strangers were brought to that strange feast,
it was filled up with all those undesirables,
Then there was his kicker,
all of us who said no on the RSVPs were disinvited!

         The gall of that man. I was so offended I couldn’t even finish my Tiramisu.
He allows in an uninvited, unappetizing, visitor for the appetizer,
insults both the guest and the host during the main course,
and suggests we will receive our just desserts during dessert.

As I said before, “Worst Dinner Party Ever!”