Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

& archive, Year C.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

We find ourselves at a dinner party this week—hosted by “tax collectors and sinners”, the untouchables as far as the Pharisees and scribes are concerned. Jesus is also at table. He is the chief guest, and is invited because the persons hosting want to hear him speak. They desire to listen as they sit in this intimate space of table hospitality. In turn, Jesus welcomes these social and religious outcasts. For this he is criticized by the religious leaders who grumble, saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus, on hearing their grumbling, includes the Pharisees and scribes in the table conversation. He tells some stories, each about being lost and being found – about losing our place and then returning home.

If we listen carefully, deeply, we come to realize that on this side of Eden we are lost and far from home. But in the same way that God came into the garden looking for Adam and Eve, calling out “Where are you?”, so God comes looking for us. We are the lost sheep, the lost coin, and if we choose to read further in this fifteenth chapter of Luke, we are the prodigal son. In each of these stories, the Shepherd goes after the sheep who is lost until he finds it, the woman lights a lamp, sweeps the house, and searches carefully for the lost coin until she finds it, the father waits on the porch—scanning the horizon—then runs to greet and welcome the younger son who had left home and lost his way in life. God is deeply involved in this business of looking for us, coming to us, finding us.

We are also involved. We choose to turn at the sound of our name, to be found, to be picked up and carried back to where we belong. Just as God welcomes us, so we learn to welcome God’s coming and receiving us back.

And now the party begins! Friends and neighbors are invited to celebrate the finding, the returning. Angels in heaven also whoop for joy! This great joy and celebration springs from within God’s heart and being: “We had to celebrate and rejoice . . .” because this member of the family who was lost has been found, and is now back among us. (Luke 15:32) We are brought back into the great life-giving orb of God’s creation and redemption, original birthing and now re-birthing in Christ Jesus.

No wonder Jesus sat at table with tax collectors and sinners! And no wonder that these men and women wanted to sit and listen to him speak this good news!

For reflection:

Who do I sit with?
Who do I welcome?
In what ways do I pay attention to God’s welcoming hospitality at work in myself and “others”? –in my awareness, in my praying, in my practice?

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

9/9 Monday: Luke 15:1-7
9/10 Tuesday: Luke 15:1-2, 8-10
9/11 Wednesday: Psalm 51:1-10
9/12 Thursday: Exodus 32:7-14
9/13 Friday: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
9/14 Saturday: Luke 15:1-7
9/15 Sunday: Luke 15:1-2, 8-10