10 ways that humility can be put into practice

10 ways that humility can be put into practice.

1. Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
2. Speak without accusing (James 1:19)
3. Give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26)
4. Pray without ceasing (Colossians 1:9)
5. Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
6. Share without pretending (Ephesians 4:15)
7. Enjoy without complaining (Philippians 2:14)
8. Trust without wavering (1 Cor 13:7)
9. Forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13)
10. Promise without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12)

Sermon Luke 14:1,7-14

Jesus was a great observer of human behaviour. He know us better then we know ourselves, and knows the reasons behind our actions, even when we are not fully aware ourselves.

We hear today that Jesus was at a dinner party, with a Pharisee (boo…hiss). One of the leading Pharisees as well!!! And they were watching him. But I think that Jesus was watching they pretty closely as well. He was watching and waiting for that opportunity to give them a message, to teach them a lesson.

Many people read these passages and only look at the surface. They read it as a lesson in etiquette. In Jesus’ day dinner parties were not just times for friends and family to get together, but there was a prescribed etiquette that governed who was to attend, where they sat and who with, what they were fed and how they were to be served.

But Jesus was not waiting to teach them about cleanliness, or the correct order to serve dishes, or how people were to sit. He was waiting, watching them for his moment to talk about the Kingdom of God, and how different it is to the world we live in.

As I said, there was a strict etiquette to who would attend such dinner parties, there was a great social divide which made some people acceptable, and others unacceptable in society. These occasions showed to everyone who was important and who was not.

Those of the most important got the best seats, the best food, and the very best and most wine. Those less important sat away from the top table, got lower quality food and the cheaper wine.

However, should a person of higher status arrive late, social customs permitted the host to tell a guest already seated to move…not ask, mind you, but tell: “Give up your seat!”

I don’t know about you, but I were asked to attend one of these occasions, I would spent the days before hand worrying about where I would sit, the embarrassment of being asked to move!

Jesus was watching very closely that night, determined to overturn any custom that would exclude or reject and, in his own way, told them a parable to get his message across to them without causing a riot.

“Think about your situation,” he suggested. “Because your way is not the way the Lord.”

“Your table must be open to the last as much as the first.” “The most humble, the ones that anyone of standing would never, left to their own devices, share a meal with…

  • people who are poor, ill, disabled
  • people with nothing left to lose
  • people who are difficult, hard to take care of and need a lot of help
  • people who think differently, believe differently, and act differently than you do
  • people who have no way to repay
  • people who will never be the life of any party

I don’t know about you, but I don’t hold many dinner parties. My house is too small for large gatherings (I only have four chairs). But this is more than just a dinner party. Jesus is talking more generally, about the people in our lives. And those people we invite into it, and those people we exclude, and try to keep away. Who is not welcome to share our table, who doesn’t get an invite? To our tables, to our clubs and groups, to our social gatherings, to our lives, to our church???

I’m sure we can all think of people who we have tried to keep away from, or a type of people that we find it difficult to accept or get along with so we exclude them. I am no exception in this, I’ve never made a list but I know I can think of people who I keep away from or I might not wish to be part of my life, people who scare me, or intimidate me, people who are overly loud and aggressive. Those people who drive too fast behind you on our country lanes and who get frustrated and start swearing at you because you are within the speed limit. Those who ignore you, or talk about you behind your back, and who you believe are making your life more difficult. Those we are jealous of. Those who have hurt us in the past.

If we are honest, most of us can think of people we might put on a ‘do not invite’ list. And I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that?

Jesus watches us just as closely as he watched those Pharisees that night, and I think he might be disappointed that we can feel like this. His message is that all are welcome at his table, all are welcome at the altar, with all of our faults and failings, with all of our fears and pain.

I am grateful that we have a God that does not condemn us for the baggage we carry with us, for our prejudices and fears of other people. But we must try harder as Jesus asks us to. We must try not to exclude within our own lives, because all people are children of God. If we believe the message that Jesus gives us, we are all brothers and sisters together, in Christ.

Jesus wills us to make a difference in our lives, and is asking us, inviting us, and praying that we can put aside our differences, the pasts that weigh us down, those things that put us into darkness, and instead choose to love.

‘Love the Lord with everything, and your neighbour as yourself.’

Let us move from our seats of judgement, go higher, to a seat closer to the Kingdom, closer to Jesus. To the seat that has been prepared for us. Amen.

…………………………………..

Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Jesus says ‘‘fear not – it is the father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom of Heaven’.

Jesus says ‘‘fear not – it is the father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom of Heaven’.

God wants to give us the very best things in life. The greatest thing which we should be searching and longing for. But do we have the time? Do we give God the space in our lives? Do we give Him the time? Does it fit into our busy lives?

God wants to give us his kingdom, that place where joy, happiness, peace, freedom, kindness exists continually. But do we make the time to accept this gift? And if not, why not?

A Story of Priorities
A man had some sand, which represented those small trivial things in life, some pebbles which represented those more important things, and then some rocks, which represented those most important, those crucial things in life.

He got a jar, and started by putting all those insignificant small things in, the sand, then he put those more important things in, the pebbles, and finally topped it off with the rocks, but found that the rocks didn’t fit. These was no room for those most important things.

He took a second jar, and started off by putting in the rocks, starting off with those most important things, secondly the pebbles, and finally the sand the trivial. By prioritising he was able to fit everything in, but when we get things in the wrong order, we miss out on the best.

The Kingdom is ours, but do we have time to receive it? Do we keep our lives so full and busy in the trivial things, that we miss out on what counts, we have no time to sit, and be still before our God, we don’t have time to pray,or read the scriptures, we don’t have time to be a part of the church,the body of Christ?

Are we too busy?
Do we miss out on the most important things in life?
Do we truly know the love, joy and peace in our friendships?
Do we pray?
Do we read the scriptures regularly?
Do we find time to meet with members of the one body?

If not, do we have our priorities right?

Sunday 4th August

Last Sunday was a busy and confusing one. I had three morning services and I was meant to do two in the afternoon, but thankfully our lay reader took the final one off me, I may well have died if she didn’t.

There was great excitement at the news of the bishops intention to appoint Revd Beth Bailey to the updated/ re-formed Ministry Area.

I had three sermons for Sunday. One for the Eucharistic services, one for the Family Service, and one for Gosber (Welsh Evensong), all based upon the set readings, so I’m not going to post all three up because there are too many repetitions and overlaps.

In the Eucharistic Service I spoke about what the most important things in life are. Earthly wealth and riches are not comparable to heavenly wealth. And earthly riches are worth even less if we cannot, and do not share them with others.

I used this story I found about the legend of Alexander the Great. Legend has it that after conquering many kingdoms, he was returning home but he fell seriously ill and he came to the point of death.

With death staring at him in the face, Alexander realized that his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

Knowing that his end is near, he called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, but I have three wishes and they must be carried out without fail.”

“Firstly, my physicians alone must carry my coffin. Secondly, when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the grave will be strewn with all the gold and silver and precious stones that I have collected.”

“Finally, my last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”

His generals assured him that his three wishes would be fulfilled, but they would like to know why those three strange wishes, and so he explained.

“I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can cure every illness. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let people not take life for granted.

As for strewing the gold and silver and other riches along the way to the grave, that is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life gaining riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I want people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I will go out of this world.”

And with those final words, Alexander the Great closed his eyes and breathed his last.

I ended with this line “what you do for yourself dies with you. What you do for others, lives on, and makes you rich in the sight of God.”

In the Family Service I started by speaking of our favourite toys and how much we love the things that we have. There were two little girls who had brought their toy dogs with them, they brought them up and spoke about how much they liked their toys. I went on to re-tell the story of the brothers and how they had fallen out because they didn’t know how to share, and that they thought their ‘stuff’ was more important than their friendship and relationship.

Sometimes we want something so much, and think about something so much that we make other people sad or angry, we forget how we make other people feel. Jesus says that the amount of stuff we collect doesn’t matter, that there are more important things, like filling our lives with the love of God and sharing that with those around us.

….

In the final Eucharistic Service, there were questions at the end about the use of the word ‘vanity’ and its origins because the welsh made the passage more clear. The welsh word used is ‘Gwagedd’ which conveys the sense of emptiness and futility. So for Gosber I was able to pick up on these questions and explore the meaning of the Old Testament reading in the change of language.

“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

I explained the meaning of the original Hebrew term ‘hebel’ which means ‘breath’ or ‘vapor’, relating to the emptiness of a breath, making “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” into “Empty of emptiness! All things are empty!” or “Futility of futilities! All is futile!”

In the context of God, and the whole of eternity, all is meaningless, and without God, everything is empty, everything is void.

The use of vanity in scripture is closer the concept of futility, but we do not mean vain in the modern sense of the word, it’s not about not being able to pull ourselves away from the mirror. We can think of vanity as a disordered attachment to ourselves, which in the context of God and eternity of all meaningless.

We try too often to hold onto those fleeting things. Let’s hold onto those things that count most in life, and learn the lesson of life from the scriptures and teachings of Jesus, so that we know how to live now, as well as forever.