by the Rev. Barbara Mraz

Abortion rights, the abomination of gun laws, or my three favorite movies of all time — much as I would like to hold forth on these topics from the pulpit, the implicit expectation is that the preacher will address at least one of the lessons for the day.

It can take finesse or sneakiness, if you will, to still address the topic you really want to talk about.  I have focused on one phrase or even one word from one of the lessons in order to work in an issue I’m passionate about. This coming Sunday, however, there is no escape.  Everywhere I looked, there it was: Vulnerability.  

Could any topic be less relevant in our success-oriented, competitive culture where the best college, job, or even partner is the goal? It wasn’t that long ago that children were taught the importance of good manners and being a good person. But a book published in 1990 was instrumental in changing this with an overwhelming emphasis on individuality and the self.  What are the spiritual implications of this shift? (And you’ll never guess which book it is…). Focusing on vulnerability and success seem like a hard sell.

Fortunately, the importance of hospitality is also stressed in this Gospel from Luke. In fact, a good part of the lesson seems to be about table seating – as who should sit where!  Sounds dated – and even trivial — but think about how often we stress about who should sit where at the holiday table, or who will let us sit with them at lunch in seventh grade. In the parable, Jesus gives us a daunting “to do” list for our next get-together and definite instructions about who to invite.

It is a troubling and demanding Gospel and is all about much more than vulnerability, table manners and guest lists. Is it realistic for 2022 or do we need to dance around it with qualifiers and conditions? 

Good question.

See you in church.


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