Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hospitality as Noticing

This week's scriptures are Luke 13:10-17 and Luke 14:1-6.

There are a lot of things that can be said about the story found in Luke 13:10-17; and we're going to talk about some of them on Sunday. But I'd like, for just a moment to focus on one thing in particular...that is that Jesus noticed this woman.

Unlike many of the people whom Jesus healed, she didn't come to him asking for healing. She wasn't part of throng that cried out to him or gathered when he was surrounded by the sick and the lame. She was at church...she was worshipping in the synagogue...bent and in pain....and Jesus noticed her.

Probably everyone in the synagogue knew this woman. They passed her on the street, at the well, in the market. They had come-perhaps-to be so accustomed to her bent shape that they took for granted that this was how she was. Even those women who had grown up with her as children, who remembered her as a playmate, had shifted out of their awareness their memory of her as someone whose back was once straight and strong. She was just the bend woman of the village....until Jesus noticed.

He could have done nothing. He could have gone and finished his teaching message and gone about his regular pattern when he was in the synagogue and it wouldn't have been in any way remarkable. But Jesus noticed and out of that noticing, he acted to free this woman from her pain.

It makes me wonder if hospitality doesn't begin with our eyes. With what we notice. Does 'making a place' for people begin with noticing that they need a place?

Does it begin with paying attention to the people we pass each day who are 'bent' in some ways by how the years have affected them. Does having the 'eyes of Jesus' mean looking at our world in a way that notices what needs to change, who needs help, rather than sliding by thinking like the song from the musical "that's the way it goes; everybody knows. That's the way it's always been and how it's gotta be."

"Noticing." It is such a small thing. But it's interesting that Jesus follows up this incident...perhaps immediately...by talking about small things. Listen to verses 18-21

And he said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard sed that someone took and swed in the garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." And again, he said, "To what shaould I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

A small thing, noticing, may be the very thing that opens the door of God's hospitality....the hospitality that Jesus called The Kingdom of God.

See you Sunday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sadly, there was an error with the recording equipment this Sunday - so no audio for you!

Personally, I blame the federal government.