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A message for the week starting on Sunday 28 August 2022

Lectionary Week: Twelve Sunday After Pentecost

Prescribed Texts: Jeremiah 2:4-13, Psalms 81:1, 10-16, Hebrew 13:1-8, Luke 14:1,7-14

Take the Lowly Place … Today

Focus Text:  Luke 14:1,7-14

Here in South Africa the month of August is known as Women’s Month and as the August draws to its end I was confronted with a very provocative lecture by John De Gruchy, titled: “Can a white South African male enter the kingdom of heaven?”

Now, before you unsubscribe from this Bible Message, De Gruchy himself is a white male South African Christian, who explains that this question is specifically about white males, “because they were largely responsible for creating and sustaining colonialism and apartheid”. However, he suggests that it is also an inclusive question, “for how can anyone, irrespective of race, gender and nationality enter the kingdom of heaven? If you are not a white male, you can and should still ask the question for yourself and I hope you do.”

In our focus text this week, Luke 14:1, 7-14 we read about Jesus, who on the Sabbath, while a guest at the house of one of the Pharisee leaders, healed a man who had dropsy. Jesus’s attempt to engage with the lawmakers and Pharisees about this incident failed and he resorts to telling a parable in which he urged those present to take the lowly place when it gets to seating arrangements at festivals. In verse 11 Jesus said: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus also challenges us in verses 12-14 to carefully consider who we invite to our feasts and celebrations. He urges us to also invite poor and marginalized people.

To return to De Gruchy’s lecture, he reminds us that Jesus’ teachings “goes against the grain of privileged life” and then asks how many of us who call ourselves Christians really tries to follow the example of Jesus. He later states that his question is not about if white South African males “can be saved and go to heaven when we die, but whether we can do God’s will while we live.”

Jesus instructs us to take the lowly place. Jesus reminds us that his example is one of servanthood, one where we do not seek out the best seats for ourselves, one where we do not abuse our financial or traditional power to control, oppress or devalue other human beings. Not women, not children, not the poor, nor any other people living on the margins of our society.

May we find the courage to look differently at power, status, and hierarchy.

May we be willing to abdicate power and learn more about what it means to serve others.

May we discover what it means to live beyond our own personal salvation when we die, but to truly live in community, serving God’s kingdom today, on earth as it is in heaven.

*The 8th Steve de Gruchy Memorial Lecture, delivered by John de Gruchy on 30 April 2019.

To think about: In what areas in your life do you have or seek power? What will it ask from you to turn away from this desire for power and position? What difference will this make to your ministry and your testimony?

Written by: Aneleh Fourie Le Roux, CABSA Director, Trainer and Facilitator.