Summary: A sermon for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6, Series C

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3rd Sunday after Pentecost [Pr.6] June 13, 2010 “Series C”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Forgive us, gracious Lord, for the ways in which we ignore those whom you love and for whom you died. Forgive us for the ways we tend to see our friends and family first, without looking beyond our circle to those caught in your wide embrace of redeeming grace. Forgive us for the way that we walk past those who are in need because their need might intrude on our placid lives and make difficult demands upon us. For your transforming, healing grace, we can but give you thanks. Amen.

In one of the commentaries that I read on our Gospel lesson for this morning, it stated, “Rarely, in human life, are boundaries drawn more clearly than around the dinner table… The table is a place of intimacy, for the sharing of food together is one of the most intimate of human activities. The meal, eaten by the gathered family at the end of the day, is a sort of sacrament of family life, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bonding.” End quote.

Now, although I would not disagree with this comment, I do wander if it might not be a bit passe. Over thirty-five years ago, Dr. Delton Glebe, the former dean of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, lamented the breakdown of the daily family meal. He told our class that the family today is so involved in so many activities, that it is lucky to share a family meal together on a weekly basis, let alone daily. He concluded that the loss of this daily ritual puts a strain on family intimacy.

Clearly, the mobility of today’s society contributes to even less frequent family sharing around the table. For example, Josie and I rarely have the opportunity to break bread together with my daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons, who are now living in Tokyo. Even though they remain in our daily prayers, the intervals between table fellowship is far too long.

But for the Jewish people, especially in Biblical times, meals were seen as religious occasions. In fact, the custom of saying a blessing before eating a meal was a Jewish tradition to claim the dinner table as a place of Divine grace and revelation. To gather around the table was a time for sharing and growing together in faith.

Our Gospel lesson for this morning puts us at the dinner table with Jesus. Jesus is the guest of a man of relatively high social and religious status. He is a Pharisee named Simon, and as a Pharisee, Simon spent much of his day studying God’s word and striving to live his life according to his faith.

All goes well, until an unnamed woman from the city, who is described as having been a sinner, upon learning that Jesus was there, barges into the scene completely uninvited. Though her sin is not mentioned, her actions have intimate overtones, as she goes to great length to bathe and anoint Jesus’ feet, using her tears, her hair, and perfume. The depiction of such extravagant touching of Jesus by a sinful woman would have made any first century Pharisee extremely uncomfortable.

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