12 Pentecost, Luke 14:1, 7-14

When I perform a wedding, I like to attend the reception simply out of curiosity.

If the Norwegian bachelor pastor is invited, where do you have him sit?

It's a fascinating window into how people think, and what if anything they think of me.

Some don't invite me at all, in which case I try not to show up.

Those who do invite me have to figure out where to put me.

Sometimes I placed with the hyper-religious cousin, and I take one for the team.

Sometimes I get seated at the head table with the happy, appreciative couple.

Sometimes, bordering on often, I find myself next to someone who acts like the

first person ever to have issues with the Catholic church.

Sometimes I get seated with the single ladies—pleasure to meet you!

Sometimes I land on what is clearly an island of misfit toys.

Always there are reasons behind the seating chart.

Where will Jesus sit, the Pharisees and other sabbath dinner guests wonder, as they angle

for good seats of their own.

They were watching him closely, and obviously he was watching them too.

Before he goes rogue advice columnist on them, however, he tips his hand.

Did you notice that verses 2-6 did not get invited to the party this week?

What is the lectionary skipping past?

It's a piece of the story that sounds a lot like last week, when Jesus ignited controversy by

healing a woman who was quite unable to stand up straight on the sabbath.

Now, on this sabbath, he's at it again:

Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy.

And Jesus asked the lawyers and the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to cure people on the

sabbath, or not?"

But they were silent.

So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away.

Then 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 the sabbath day?"

And they could not reply to this.

Last week's story was about more than Jesus curing the woman; he was healing

the whole synagogue, setting them free from burdensome sabbath expectations.

The same thing is happening this week.

Dropsy is an old word for what we now call edema.

It is bloating caused by excess water and accompanied by insatiable thirst for more.

It was, in the ancient world, a symbol of greed.

Just as the oman embodied a bound and burdened synagogue, the man with dropsy

embodies the guest list, and Jesus wants to heal them.

When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of

honor...not only because of reverse pyschology wisdom, but also because there's

a chance no one will invite you to move up.

Position your body and prepare your heart to be okay with that.

And when you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or brothers

or relatives or rich neighbors, lest they invite you in return...which is the whole point of inviting them.

It is the quid pro quo of social dropsy—you scratch my thirst, I scratch yours.

We help others to help ourselves.

We give enough to charity to get a tax write off, if not our name in the program or on a


We strategically and selectively befriend others to advance ourselves.

And it works, except that it doesn't, because no matter how waterlogged with

prestige and power and fame and money we become, we are not satisfied.

We always end up thirsty for more.

So stop chasing the empty promise of reward, Jesus says.

Invite those who cannot and will not pay you back.

Give expecting nothing in return.

Be generous with no agenda except the wellbeing of someone else.

Who does this?

The guest who is ruining, and healing, the party.

Jesus is God's generous gift to a poor, crippled, lame, blind humanity who can never pay

God back.