Humility and Hospitality

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Jeremiah 2:4-13 • Psalm 81:1, 10-16 • Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 • Luke 14:1, 7-14

14 One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely.

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!

10 “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

Luke 14:7-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

This is a wonderful gospel lesson for this week’s devotional. We have been working our way through the Gospel of Luke during this season that follows Pentecost. Jesus has been invited to the home of a Pharisee for dinner. It happens that this dinner is on the Sabbath and again Jesus sees a man in need and heals him. Luke only records that Jesus healed him, but doesn’t indicate the reaction of the Pharisee – especially in light that it was the Sabbath.

With the healing over, Luke turns his focus to Jesus’ words. We learn that those who were at the dinner table were competing for top billing. In the culture, when you were seated near the host, it meant you were a special guest. Jesus takes note that the guests were seating themselves and vying for the place of honor. We are reminded that we don’t know exactly what a host is thinking in making the seating chart. Jesus says the best thing to do is go for the place of least honor. That way, you won’t be embarrassed when the host moves you to a place of lesser honor.

This really points again to the upside down nature of the Kingdom of God. Jesus told us that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Jesus says, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (vs. 11) This is much different than the way we think.

These words come to mind when Paul quotes and ancient hymn in Philippians 2

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus even demonstrated this behavior when He washed the disciples feet. Not only does Jesus remind us to be humble, but He reminds us to show hospitality to all. Often when we show hospitality, we do it to those who are our friends…those who might give us good influence. We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.”

James, the half-brother of Jesus writes these words in his letter:

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

Jesus calls us to take care of the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. We are to avoid favoritism because Jesus commands us to avoid it. In this short passage Jesus reminds us – his followers to be like Him – to be humble and to show hospitality – not necessarily to those whom we think deserve it but (many times) to those whom we think least deserve it.

The Storm | Flying Colors

Several weeks ago, I shared a video The Call from the Neal Morse Band. It was different in that it was a long song clocking in at over 10 minutes. One of the projects that Neal Morse is also involved in is called Flying Colors. I’ve been listening to their stuff lately and love this song called The Storm. Here are the lyrics:

There was a time
When my life was easy
Stretched out in the sun
Everything was clover
The world was off my shoulders for awhile

But then the sky turned a bomb fire shade
And hit me like a gun
It passed with flying colors
There’s no flying over…

The storm…
We will dance as it breaks
The storm…
It will give as it takes
And all of our pain is washed away
Don’t cry or be afraid
Some things only can be made
In the storm

Sometimes we get swept away
We’re forced to take the change
The desert gives you comfort
You can’t stay here all your wounded life

Underneath as the tempest rage
Your secrets come undone
When mountains need movin’
Let me help you through it

The storm…
We will dance as it breaks
The storm…
Comes as fast as it fades
And all of our pain is washed away
Don’t cry or be afraid
Some things only can be made
In the storm

All your secrets come undone
Every web you’ve ever spun
All your secrets come undone
Let ’em go
Let it come…

The storm…
We will dance as it breaks
The storm…
Gives you more than it takes
And all of our pain is washed away
Stare chaos in the face
We need only to embrace

Don’t cry or be afraid
Some things only can be made
In the storm

This song reminded me of two scripture passages. One is found in Romans 5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

The other is found in James 1

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Perhaps this morning, you are going through a storm in life. Use is as an opportunity to grow. This song is a reminder of that…some things can only be made in the storm.

Sunday Night Thoughts

While we didn’t have a full week of school, we did finish our first week. I’m still trying to get into the swing of things on the van driving front. Remember where to be when and all that good stuff. This week Pam will be joining me and I will be expanding my route a bit. This will be a full week of driving and our students first full week of classes. As part of worship this morning, Pam prayed for our students, teachers and aides, administrators, bus drivers and aides, and support staff. We also prayed for James as he will be headed back to Houghton before next Sunday.

Image may contain: 9 people, including Dale Argot and Pam Christman Argot, people smiling, people standing and indoor
A picture of the pastors who are part of our local ministerial association. We had gathered to serve lunch to the school teachers in our district. This is a great group who put the Kingdom of God first and love working with them. Our high school principal walked in as we were taking the picture to see if we were ready. He commented that was one thing he never expected to see from us. But it was very cool.

This past week our ministerial association served lunch to our teachers. They were grateful for our time and service and it is a pleasure to serve our teachers.

Not much else happened last week, just a lot of getting used to new schedules. As I already mentioned, this week James will be getting ready to head back to college and Anna will have an in-service day this week. I’m hoping to get my running routine back on track.

It was a beautiful weekend – in many ways. The weather has been very nice. Yesterday, we went to INDIAFest, which was a great way to hear and see the arts from India as well as get a taste of food from there as well. I think one of my favorites is naan, which is an Indian flat bread. We also sampled Chicken Tikka, Butter Chicken, rice, palak paneer (which is a spinach dish) it was very good. Both Anna and I enjoyed the food – I was surprised that it wasn’t all spicy, but very flavorful.

This morning we again had a wonderful, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led service. Our attendance was down because of sickness and end-of-summer vacations. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm. God spoke to us in a mighty way. After the service we took James one last time to Taco Bell and this evening we went for ice cream. All in all, its been a great week and I’m looking forward to another great one!

Prayer for the Week

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Running Update

After a couple of pretty frustrating weeks on the running front, I was able to have a decent week. I put up 26 miles – most of them running miles. August has been a bit of a frustration. I’ve not been able to establish a good running pattern. Two weeks ago I was able to up up 21 miles, but last week was paltry. One of the highlights this week was this morning’s 8 miler.

Here in NW Pennsylvania, we have something known as dendritic fog. The word dendritic means vein-like. NW PA (especially this time of year) has many fog-filled river valleys. When viewed from a satellite, they look like tiny veins. This morning was one of those mornings we had a dendritic fog. It always burns off by 9 or 10. At 7:30, we had quite the fog bank, but by 9, the fog was clearing off.

About three miles into the run, I took off my shirt – it was about 55 degrees, but I was sweating. About twenty minutes later I passed a female runner in all long sleeves and pants. She looked at me like a was crazy and asked, “Cold?” I said, “no.”

The run went well until mile 6. My pace was almost the same as my faster/shorter runs this week, and I told myself not to push it. Miles 7 and 8 were tough, but I kept pressing through and made it the full 8 miles. It’s probably only the second time I’ve run that far this year and I used to run 8 miles all the time. I’m hoping to extend it out another mile next week, because I know long runs help your over all pace and I have been missing them.

I have 59 miles for the month and with some success, I could be close to 90 for August. I would be happy with that, but to get to 1,000 miles for the year, I’m going to have to work hard in the fall and early winter. But for now, I keep PRESSING ON!


11th Sunday after Pentecost | August 25, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-10 • Psalm 71:1-6 • Hebrews 12:18-29 • Luke 13:10-17

10 One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, 11 he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.

Luke 13:10-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

One of the things that caused Jesus trouble on many occasions was healing on the Sabbath. Each of the gospel writers includes at least one instance. Today we have Luke’s account of Jesus healing a woman who had been bent over double for eighteen years. That’s a long time. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue and noticed the woman. She didn’t come to Jesus for help, but Jesus noticed her and without her asking immediately heals her – first with his voice and then by his touch. What was her response? She praised God. There were probably many others who were also praising God along with this woman, but there’s a critic in every crowd. This time it happened to be the synagogue leader. He chastises Jesus for healing the woman on the Sabbath.

Jesus responds back and asks, (in my paraphrase), “What’s so wrong about healing on the Sabbath?” He makes the point that the leader watered his animals on the Sabbath. That took some work to do that and yet healing this woman was considered work – delivering this woman from the hands of Satan was work. Jesus in effect says, “What better day than to release her from the hand of Satan than on the day that I created for worship.”

It sounds like that silenced the enemies quickly. Jesus had compassion on the woman and while it wasn’t something normally done on the Sabbath, he went ahead and did it anyway – after all, he was the Lord of the Sabbath. In another healing episode, Jesus asks was the Sabbath made for man or man made for the Sabbath? We need to remember that the Sabbath was indeed made for rest from work, but it was also a day to worship God. Tomorrow morning we will gather for worship. It’s important to remember that despite everything else – Sunday or the Sabbath is a day for worship and rest. You could also say that is a day – more than any other – for compassion. If you see someone in need on the Sabbath, what a better way to worship God than to help them out. It’s what Jesus would do.

Nobody | Casting Crowns

I was going to share this video in worship yesterday, but God had other plans. For many years I felt like a nobody. I remember that I was scared to death to give a speech in 11th grade. I was always picked last in gym class. But with Jesus it doesn’t matter we are all somebody in His eyes. We can all be unlikely heroes!

Sunday Night Thoughts

At the moment it’s a sunny day, but we have had hit and miss showers all day. We got a nice one in the 10 o’clock hour this morning – another one around 1 and just a few minutes ago – around 4:30. We heard on the radio, the next few days are going to be like this.

It’s been a really good week. I ended up with a couple of unexpected and welcomed bus runs. It’s hard to believe that school starts next week already. The summer has flown by.

Yesterday, we took the opportunity to take one last day trip. Our trip took us to the Eternal Flame Falls, and the Niagara Aerospace Museum. We were headed toward the Tesla statue at Niagara Falls, but let’s just say Niagara Falls was crazy. After that attempt we headed south to the Walden Galleria, before heading over to Duff’s Famous Wings. Pam, Anna, and I had been there before – just about a year ago, but James wasn’t with us. He was already back at Houghton. Speaking of which, just two weeks remain until we take him back for his senior year. Crazy.

Hopefully, I’ll get back on track this week with my running…but we do head back to school, so that will be a challenge.

We had a good worship service – completely Holy Spirit-led – and I love it when that happens. It started coming together early in the week. Even so, not all the pieces came together until this morning – even to the point of calling several audibles – I really felt like a quarterback listening for the calls from the Holy Spirit. But it was awesome. We changed up the order of service as we went. I ended up preaching about 10 minutes into the service and then following the preaching of God’s Word, we had a time of prayer and specifically for healing. It really was amazing.

It was the capstone to a really amazing week. This week Pam and I along with the other area clergy have the honor of serving our local teachers lunch on one of their in-service days. We are really looking forward to it.

With that, I’ll close. Have a great week.