August 23 – August 29, 2016

WORD

1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.  2Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy.  3And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?”  4But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away.  5Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?”  6And they could not reply to this.

7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.  8“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; 9and 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.  10But 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.  11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12He said also to the one who had invited him, “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.  13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:1-14

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: I look at the table set in the image above and I feel invited to a warm, loving place.  This might not be the table we would imagine being set at a great banquet.  However, I imagine it as the type of table Jesus would set for us and would us to set for others.  It is a table that seems to invite intimacy and comfort and peaceful joy.  It seems to be a table where people, even very different people, might become fast and true friends.  I imagine that Jesus wants to sit with you and me, with us and them, today at such at such a table and commune with us and bring reconciliation.  Come to this table.  There is room for you.  There is room for those from whom you feel far off and separated.  Where is God calling you to set such a table?  For whom is God asking for you to save a place of honor?  Light the candle; pour the tea; slice the bread and apples.  Sit there with Jesus and be healed.  Sit with the poor and be enriched.  Sit with the overlooked and see life in a new way.  Sit with the children of the kingdom and be prepared for its glory.  Sit and be at the table of Jesus where everyone is welcome and social stigmas are turned upside down.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, August 23 – Proverbs 9
  • Wednesday, August 24 – Proverbs 10
  • Thursday, August 25 – Proverbs 11
  • Friday, August 26 – Proverbs 12
  • Saturday, August 27 – Proverbs 13
  • Sunday, August 28 – Proverbs 14
  • Monday, August 29 – Proverbs 15

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: So many people feel excluded from the “table” of the Church because they are not the friends, relatives, or rich neighbors of church people; they cannot “pay the church people back,” so to speak.  So many people outside of the church are made to feel like “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”  So many have had bad experiences of the Church, harmed by the politics or exclusivity of the Church.  Pray that God will bring together your path and the path of a person hurt by the Church.  As those paths are brought together, pray for generosity and hospitality.  Ask for the grace to open the door to faith in Christ for someone for whom that door has seemingly closed.  Who is it that God is bringing to mind right now?  Pray for the courage and the resolve to invite that person into a new experience of God’s love, mercy, and grace through your compassionate communion with them.

Meditation Focus:  Read and re-read the words of Jesus from the Scripture: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Remember a recent example of when you have acted humbly and a recent example of when you have been self-exalting.  Ask God to give you an image of what it means for you specifically to exalt yourself.  Ask God to give you an image of what it looks like for you specifically to be humble.  As you picture these two expressions of your life, what reactions do you sense within yourself?  Which are you more naturally drawn to?  Picture Jesus and then hear him say to you, directly: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  How might you live out this Word this week?  Allow God to draw you into humility today.

Journaling Focus: (1) Think about a time in which you felt very self-important only to be humbled by a failure or social embarrassment.  What led you to inflate your sense of self-importance?  Who was there, what happened, and what did you feel?  Did someone purposely humble you or was this act of humility simply a result of circumstance?  How did you respond?  God desires for us to learn – about ourselves, about God, and about life in general – as a result of these events.  What did you learn from this situation?

(2) Write about a time you felt excluded from something important.  Perhaps you were made to feel unimportant or ignored while others were celebrating or sharing in a joy of which you felt you should have been a part.  What led to that exclusion?  How did it make you feel?  Was the exclusion the result of a misunderstanding or was it intentional?  How do you know?  Now think of a time or a situation in which you might have been on the other side of this type of experience, in which you where the one excluding someone else.  Was this intentional or accidental?  How do you think the person felt being excluded by you or your social group?  Why might God call us to be inclusive instead of exclusive?  Let us not forget that God has gone to great lengths to make a place for us.

Breath Prayer: Father, set a table of healing and grace for us all.

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