SPECIAL VERSE: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11 (WEB)
OBJECT: forks, spoons, chopsticks, table napkins
There is something very special about sitting around a table eating and talking. Whether it is a church pot-luck or a meal at home with our family, or even in the school cafeteria with friends, our meal is pleasant if everyone has good table manners.
Here in America, good table manners are part of our custom. But even in America people have different customs.
One time, Lynda was invited to the christening of her friend’s baby. Lynda’s mother was in town visiting and her friend asked Lynda to bring her mother to the event, too. They arrived at the church––a small church on a Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. It was exciting to hear the priest pray over the tiny infant in a long white dress. After the ceremony, everyone was invited to share a meal in the fellowship hall of the church. Lynda and her mother went into the room. In just a few minutes the priest walked to the front, prayed over the meal and sat down. No one moved. From time to time, they would look over at Lynda’s mother. She and Lynda didn’t know why they kept looking at her. Something was wrong! Then the father of the baby came over to their table. He explained that in their Native American culture, the oldest person in the room was always served first. No one would go to the serving tables until Lynda’s mother was served! It was their way of honoring their elders.
Other countries have different customs, too. In China and Japan, people use chopsticks rather than a fork to lift food to their mouth. In Mexico, the people take a siesta after the midday meal. Instead of rushing back to work, they stop and rest and sometimes take a little nap.
At church pot lucks, we often line up. Sometimes, we rush to try to be the first person in line so we can get the first piece of fried chicken, or cherry cheese cake. Yumm.
In our Bible story today, Jesus went to a house where he was to eat a meal with the people there. Jesus took time to tell a little story about customs at wedding feasts. He said that many people to attend a feast want to sit in a place of honor. But, Jesus said the person who tries for a place of honor may end up sitting in a humble place.
It seems to me that whether we are eating with chop sticks, fancy silver wear or a plastic fork, we might want to be nice to others and let them go first in line. That was Jesus’ way. It sounds to me like good table manners.
Heavenly Father, thank you for our customs and thank you for the way you teach us through your Holy Bible to honor others, and not always try to be first in everything. Today, we will try to honor you by being kind to others. Amen.
Scripture quotations from the World English Bible
Copyright 2013, Richard Niell Donovan