Circle the Stories: Parables of the Great Parabler

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Best Seats at the Table, by Katie Snipes Lancaster

When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.” Luke 14:7–11

Reflection: Just a few verses back, Jesus tells us that the first will be last and the last will be first. Now Jesus opens the door toward what that might mean, even as he recapitulates what he said before saying it a different way this time, “all who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

Is this about mere humility? Is this about our fear of not-having-enough? Of not-being-important-enough? Is this about social mores and the possibility of becoming embarrassed? We are being called to “imagine an alternative community in which social status defies social relations in a radically different way” (John Carroll, Luke: A Commentary). This isn’t just about different friend-groups being nicer to one another, this is about the entire resource-organization of society, in which some have, and others do not. If social relationships are rendered in an entirely new way, then your lunch companion is someone you’d never expect, and your next houseguest is someone you’d never imagine yourself inviting over. Or, maybe you’re the houseguest, and you are receiving gentle, genuine hospitality from some otherwise-stranger whose very personhood can show you the way of the kingdom of heaven.

O Banquet Host,
show us the way
to be brought low.

April 1, 2022

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