Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16), Year C
15th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18), Year C

Proper 17 (22) Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 • 
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Humility, in theory, is an easy concept to grasp.

It is the act or ability of a person to have a modest opinion of one's own abilities and importance. Being Humble is not synonymous with being self-deprecating. A person who is Humble is aware of her / his abilities and does not attempt to show his / herself to be something s/he is not.

But when we take it a step further and think of how the Humility of one person connects to the rest of the world it seems to be a bit more complicated. It doesn't matter if you call it evolution or nature or nurture, as humans we seem to have a drive built in to each of us where we want to prove our abilities and worth as greater than the next person. It seems we all want to show we are special and unique and often we attempt to do that by finding ways to be stronger, faster, more beautiful, smarter, funnier, more serious, more giving, more industrious, cleaner, more efficient, or more spiritual than the next person. And actually, reflecting on our own experience, we often don't even need another person to compare ourselves against.....we (We) often spend a lot of time imagining ourselves and our abilities to be more than they are....and not in a Positive Self Esteem sort of way.

Most of us have a natural tendency to develop in wonderful ways and then, unfortunately,  we somehow cross a line where we lose our place. One of the favorite quotes in our house is "You have obviously forgotten that someone is in charge and it is not you."

Time to time, we all forget that someone is in charge and it is not us. We forget that we did not get to where we are only by our own devices. We forget that where we are today is a product of our families and our friends and the world and God loving us and guiding us and keeping us safe and teaching us and reprimanding us.

Again, call it nature or nurture or evolution or the human condition or sin, but the reality is that it is easy for us to lose our handle on having a Humble view of ourselves and our place in the world.

We are not sure if this is comforting or not, but we can look through scriptures and see examples of folks losing their own grip on Humility and we can see examples of teachers attempting to guide folks in the way of Humility.

In Jeremiah we read one of hundreds of Humility Reminders found given to the people of Israel. Through the mouth / pen of Jeremiah, God mourns that the people have turned their backs on Him even though it was God who brought them to the plentiful land.

It appears a lack of Humility might somehow impede our ability to love those that are important to us. In having too high an esteem of our selves and our abilities, we are actually insulting and hurting those who helped us to get where we are.

In Psalm 81 we read in the words of the Psalmist God again mourning that the the people of Israel would not give themselves over to Him. Instead, God says "I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels."

Following our own ways and not allowing ourselves to be in relationship with those that love us appears to do damage to the very ones we love.

In the passage we get from the writer of Hebrews and from the gospel of Luke we get some pretty direct advice and examples on the importance of being Humble.
Of course, the writer of Hebrews appears to simply be talking of love. It almost feels like it is this writer's interpretation of the famous section of Paul's letter to the Corinthians that gets so much play at weddings today. This passage in Hebrews is explaining that readers who follow Jesus should love. And when we look at how it is advising its readers to love, it is hard to not see (if followed) how all of these things help a person to maintain Humility....by loving everyone from the stranger to the prisoner to your leaders to Jesus Christ.

And then we get Jesus Christ himself directly telling folks how to maintain practices that help a person to develop Humility. He says, "For all who exalt themselves will be Humbled, and those who Humble themselves will be exalted." The common theme here? We are all going to be Humble either by our choice or by the actions of others.

We are so driven sometimes to be better, faster, smarter, more righteous.  And Jesus' words ring true for Us as well...We've certainly found ourselves Humbled beyond our choice!  And we remember that someone is in charge, and it is not Us.

God,
Help me see
the places where
I can love
rather than to see
the places where
I can win.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.

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Thanks Matt & Laura, I like your prayers.

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