School is started and the new year begins. We also start our new year with the Lectionary Scriptures. This year it begins in the Gospel of Luke talking about our seating arrangement. I have noticed in the churches that I have served that most everyone has a favorite pew. I would like to ask that you consider something new. Move to a different pew and who knows you might get to know somebody new. You might even get a new perspective. So give it a try for the month of September. Try a different pew each week. Here is a little story I thought you might enjoy.
Commenting on a dinner party at which he was the guest of honor, the Roman historian Pliny reports how his host served different grades of food to the different guests. Up at the head table, as it were, they were dining sumptuously on gourmet dishes. Further out in the room — and further down the pecking-order — the grub wasn't nearly so good. As for the wine, Pliny's host had carefully prepared three small flagons to serve the stuff. "One," Pliny points out, "was for himself and me; the next for his friends of lower order (for you must know that he measures out his friendship according to the degrees of quality); and the third for his own freed-men and mine."
It was pretty stingy and mean-spirited, but it did fulfill the letter of the law in that society. Jesus looks around the room, sees all the guests milling around, anxiously looking for their place-cards, and gives them all a bit of ethical advice. "Lose the seating chart!" he tells them. If someone invites you to a dinner party, don't do what everyone expects: if your place card reads, "Head Table," go sit instead at that table with the wobbly leg off behind the pillar, where the clattering of pans from the kitchen makes it hard to carry on a conversation.