Luke 15:1-10 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Reflection: The religious leaders consider themselves favored by God in their own rights. They despise “sinners” in the name of God. They grumble and express disdain, a low opinion, and a disrespectful attitude toward Jesus when they see him approaching and partaking of table fellowship with sinners; those considered lawless, lost, cursed, and separated from God’s love and care. Jesus’ acts of presence and table fellowship with sinners, signals to those that would exclude them that no one is worthless and beyond God’s mercy, love, and care.
As Christians and United Methodists, “We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self (¶ Article 4 – the Inclusiveness of the Church and ¶161.G) Human Sexuality, The Book of Discipline).
Jesus’ table fellowship action in this morning’s gospel reading proclaims the sacred worth of both the “righteous” and the “sinners” to God. His table fellowship actions are a starting point for our faith and discipleship. They are instructive, inviting us by his example to intentionally seek to do the same. Through his acts of mercy, love and care to the lost, he corrects and counters our self-righteous impulse to despise others and separate ourselves from them in the name of God because such hatred and exclusion does not reflect the value of the other and contradicts Christ’s redemptive work in the world. His table fellowship actions hold a mirror up to us, inviting us to examine and repent of our tendency to so easily and willfully draw dividing lines that isolate and fracture rather than restore the human family and community.
Prayer of Praise: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, I was blind but now I see. Amen.
More about the painting Table Fellowship by Sieger köder (1925–2015) –
Sieger was a German soldier in World War II who was captured while fighting on the front lines in France. Upon his release, he first trained as a silversmith, then enrolled in Stuttgart’s State Academy of Art and Design.
Köder painted and taught art for twelve years before beginning a new course of study in Tübingen: Catholic theology. Ordained as a priest in 1971, he pastored until his retirement in 1995, but he never stopped painting.
Drawing from both vocations, Köder’s art flourished during his years of ministry. His altarpieces, paintings, frescoes, and stained glass windows can be found throughout Germany and beyond. His interpretations of the crucifixion, of innocent suffering, have a clarity born of his own history of war and captivity. Some have called him a “preacher with pictures.”
But as his work gained worldwide recognition, he refused to take credit himself. In one interview, he said, “People come to Ellwangen asking to see the painter. If they’re that interested in the painter, then they haven’t understood the paintings.”