By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday, August 12, 2018, we continue our Via Positiva theme of Yes! In Deed! exploring the various ways that we can embody our “Yes!” our “Oh, Yeah” in the world.
We used music from Mac Davis to learn how humility can help us live out our Yes! In Deed! in the world.
Proverbs 25:6-7: do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
Luke 14:1, 7-14: When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, lame, the blind.
ACIM, Chapter 15: Be not content with littleness
Song used in the sermon: Hard to Be Humble by Mac Davis
Our Jesus story today gives us some more clues on who we’re enthroning as our king — our ego or our true, divine self. Our guy has been invited to dinner at the home of a Pharisee, one of the head honchos of Jewish religious life. Jesus, as he usually did, used this dinner as an opportunity to teach those around him, and us listening in thousands of years later, a little lesson on true humility.
Since this dinner was on the Sabbath it would have been a very formal affair — think your finest robe and your best sandals. Being formal, there would probably already be assigned seats since the crème-de-la-crème would be expected to attend.
So, Jesus’ suggestion to not seek the highest seat seems a bit pragmatic. You don’t want to turn your humility into humiliation, after all. But, he’s also seeking to make the distinction between our ego’s version of humility and our divine self’s true humility. He does that, of course, by telling a parable about a wedding.
Again, we’re talking about a formal affair, usually with assigned seating and guests of honor. In our ego’s version of humility, we may jockey for position — move a few reserved named tags around and try to look good to whomever we’re trying to impress. We may even try to name-drop our way into the best seating or the higher places of honor. We do this, Jesus says, because we’re addicts — and our drug is being honored or recognized. Our ego thrives on this kind of stuff.
I recall being at a conference many years back and I was not on the agenda to speak or do a workshop or anything and I had a horrible time. Some people recognized me, but my ego wanted more. I wanted to be on the panels and do the workshops. I tried to act all humble, hoping someone might invite me to do something, but nobody did. My ego was so frustrated. I was so caught up in the ego’s need for recognition, I took conference goody bag and went home early.
“Hello, my name is Candace and I’m an honor addict.”
What was so horrible about it all was that I missed out on some incredible fellowship with a bunch of people who, out of the goodness of their hearts, probably could have been helpful to me down the road. But, I was too busy scheming about how I could use my connections and elbow my way into those conference events.
It felt very isolating because this is what our ego’s honor addiction does — it divides, it separates and eventually it isolates us from the very people we need to connect with to grow spiritually. More than that, honor addiction reinforces the ego’s lie that we are all separate and therefore we must compete with one another for success and prestige in the world.
This is what Jesus is saying in this parable. When we make our ego the king and our humility one of calculation, we end up alone — divided up by an egoic pecking order. Instead, Jesus says, true humility is like a luncheon or a dinner — a less formal affair than the ego likes — where everyone is welcome at the table. Instead of someone being at the head of the table and someone being at the lowest point, true humility sets out a round table with no higher or lower places.
In this place of true humility, the higher self of everyone is honored, no matter their earthly fame, wealth or rank. This is true humility because you have invited the very essence of everyone to join you, without any calculation on what you can get back from them. It’s not all that hard to be humble, Jubilants. You just have to be able to see that you and everyone else is already perfect in every way.