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

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3rd Sunday after Pentecost [Pr. 6] June 17, 2007 “Series C”

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

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, you came to us, invited us, called us, and embraced us as members of your redeemed family. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire in us grateful hearts and minds, that we might reflect our identity as your redeemed sons and daughters to those around us. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

Some of my fondest memories as a child are memories of family meals. Around the dinner table, as I sat with members of my family and participated in the conversation that developed as we ate, I learned what it meant to be a member of the Harbaugh family. This not only occurred at our daily evening meals together with our nuclear family, but we would regularly gather with my extended family for meals and picnics.

And since my father was on of a dozen children, “family” meant that entire army of cousins, aunts, uncles, and often those more distant relatives whose relationship to the clan was less clear to me. In fact, I can remember my father and uncles sleeping over night on picnic tables at a state park, to ensure enough seating for the over two hundred persons who would be attending the Harbaugh reunion, which was held each year. This was back before you could make reservations at such facilities.

On a lesser scale, there was a Sunday ritual which included my father’s brothers and sisters, and their families. Following our evening meal, we would all descend on Grandma’s house for desert. Us younger cousins would often play in her yard, making sure that we didn’t disturb her huge flowerbeds. And in the process, we would often share our own secret thoughts with each other, while our parents met in the kitchen to discuss “family” issues.

Through the process of these gatherings, my cousins and I came to love each other, as one huge family. Nobody had to tell us what it meant to be a part of the Harbaugh family. Nobody had to explain to me that I belonged and that I was loved. I learned all of that around the evening dinner table and having desert at Grandma’s house every Sunday. My people were those who gathered around the table to share a meal, and have desert together once a week. There, we found our place, our name, and our story – our identity as members of the Harbaugh family. [1]

Of course, today, things are a lot different than when I was growing up, even in my own family. Today, we are lucky if we can arrange to have our family gather around the table for an evening meal together, with all of the activities that our children are involved in. I don’t even get to see my children or grandchildren on a regular basis, as they have moved miles away, even to different countries.

But there is a sense of bonding that takes place around the dinner table, even today. And that was especially true in Jesus’ day. To be invited to share a meal with another person, was an indication that you shared a common heritage, and had found favor with the host. And quite often, the Gospels portray Jesus participating in the occasion of a meal, to reveal, not only his own identity, but to help us understand who we are, in relationship to him.

With this in mind, lets consider our Gospel lesson for this morning. A Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus to share a meal with him. While at the table, an unknown woman bursts in, falls at Jesus’ feet, and begins to wipe them with her tears, and anoint them with ointment. Although we don’t know her name, Luke does tell us that she was a sinner, a person whom Simon would not have chosen to share his table.

So Simon seizes the opportunity to formulate an opinion of Jesus. He says to himself, “If Jesus were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus responds to Simon with a story. “A certain creditor had two persons who owed him money. One owed him $5,000 dollars, the other owed him $500 dollars. When the creditor discovered that these two debtors couldn’t repay him, he simply forgave them their debt.” Then Jesus asked Simon, “Which of the two persons whose debts had been forgiven, would love the creditor the most?”

Simon responded, “Well, I suppose the one who had been forgiven the larger debt.” Yes! Jesus said. Then he pointed out to Simon his lack of hospitality customarily offered to a dinner guest, which, in an odd way, this woman had fulfilled. And in conclusion Jesus said, “I tell you, her sins, which, I will acknowledge, were many, have been forgiven, thus, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Finally, Jesus says to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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