19th FEBRUARY

Luke 14: 1 - 14

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours;  if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.”

We are delighted to be in the new manse but saddened that we cannot have folk round because of all the understandable restrictions that we have been under.  The “good room” or “front room” where I welcome people coming for support or where we entertain is for the most part lying empty.  The dining room where we love to feed people and enjoy fellowship is redundant for the time being.  We are both missing the buzz of people popping in and out of the manse because the gift of hospitality is a great gift to offer to others but why do we enjoy it?  Why do we give gifts in the first place? 

Psychologists would argue the there are different types of givers who give for different reasons - some selflessly and others selfishly.  There is the type of giving that seeks to inflate someone’s status, a show of money or even of power.  We can see that as an underlying theme in what Jesus was talking about when he was in the house of a prominent Pharisee.  The point that he is making is that when the host invites the rich and the powerful then the likelihood is that the invitation will be returned.  The danger is of giving in the hope that we might get something back.  There is also a danger on the part of the one who receives, that the gift might not be received humbly for the guests in this story looked for the best place to sit.

The genuine giver thinks not of self, or of any thought of return, but of the one they are giving to.  They will have thought about you and me.  They will have thought about what will give you and I pleasure and what will genuinely make a difference in our lives.

The genuine giver will give not just to friends and neighbours but to strangers and those on the margins.  Here is a stark yet necessary lesson in giving which brings to a place of honour in our thoughts and minds not just the poor but so many people who need our love and support.  This goes beyond giving a thought to others but turning our thoughts and prayers into action.

What kind of giver would you say that you are?  Where do you see a need that you could meet?  What kind of help could you offer?

Welcoming God, whose arms are opened wide to receive, to hold and to cherish,

may we reach out as you do,

may we seek to feed the hungry as you do,

may we find ways to do church and be church 

where all have a place and where all needs are met.  In the name of Jesus.  

AMEN.