Leaving Camp and Taking the Last Place: Pentecost +15 C

Fixing up our old house and moving into a new one has totally upended my writing practice—and I need it back if I'm ever going to graduate. So, in the interests of rebuilding it bit by bit, let's start with some lectionary practice, for the sake of trying to hear and speak the gospel. It's the 15th Sunday after Pentecost coming up, and as I do Greek first and foremost, here are the NT pericopes from Hebrews 13 and Luke 14. May it help you as much as it helps me, if not more!

Hebrews 13:1-16
Continue loving your siblings, but do not forget the love of strangers—for by so doing, some have forgotten that they entertained God's messengers. Be mindful of those in bondage as bound with you, and of those who suffer wrong as themselves also members of the body.

Always keep your unions honorable and your sexuality unstained by guilt, for God judges prostitution and adultery.

Keep your ways free of greed, being satisfied with what there is—for God has said, "I shall by no means give you up, nor shall I by any means abandon you." So then we are encouraged to say, "Because the Lord comes to my aid, I will not fear; what can people do to me?"

Be mindful of those who lead you, the same ones who spoke the message of God to you; considering the result of their way of life, imitate their trust in God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and will be so eternally. Do not be misled by elaborate and novel teachings—it is good for one's heart and mind to be confirmed by grace, not by food that did not help those who went before us.

We have a sacrificial altar from which those who serve in the tabernacle do not have the right to eat—for the high priest brings the blood of animals sacrificed for sins into the sanctuary, but their bodies are burned up outside of the camp. For this reason Jesus also, in order to consecrate the people by his own blood, suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem. So now we must go out to him, outside the camp, bearing his reproach—for as it stands we do not have an enduring city, but rather we wait upon the city that is coming.

Through Christ, then, let us constantly lift up an offering of praise and approval to God, which is the fruit of lips that confess God's name. And do not forget benevolence and fellowship, for with such offerings God is well-pleased.

Luke 14:1-14
One day, Jesus came to the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisaic sect on the Sabbath, to eat a meal. And it happened that they were watching him closely, and a certain man who was suffering from a fluid imbalance appeared before him. And Jesus, having discerned the matter for himself, said to the legal scholars and Pharisees, "Is it permissible, or not, to heal on the Sabbath?" They held their peace. So, having laid hands on the man, he cured him, sent him away, and said to them, "Who among you, if a son or an ox falls into the cistern, will not immediately pull him out—on the day of the Sabbath?" And they were not able to discern otherwise regarding these things.

He told a parable to the invited guests, on seeing how they were choosing the best places at the table: "If you have been invited by someone to a wedding, you should not sit in the best place at the table, lest they have invited someone more honorable, and the one who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this person'—and then you will start with shame to take the last place. Rather, when you are invited, go and sit down in the last place, so that when the one who invited you comes, they will say to you, 'Friend, come up higher,' and it will enhance your reputation in the eyes of all those who are sitting with you. For everyone who exalts themselves will be humiliated, but those who humble themselves will be exalted." And he said to the one who had invited him, "If you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your siblings, your kin, or your wealthy neighbors, lest they should invite you in turn, and you should be compensated for doing so. Rather, when you host a reception, invite beggars, the disabled, those who limp, and those who are blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot compensate you—for you will be compensated when the just are raised."

What do you hear in these texts, as I have translated them? Plenty of law, plenty of ethical exhortation—but on what basis? What is the good work of God that grounds this, the basis on which it can be justified?

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