Text: Luke 14:1-14
You know those moments when you get really excited about an idea only to have your bubble burst when you share it with someone else. It’s usually a good friend, one who is always thinking of the practical aspects of life, who delivers the blow. They point out that one big detail that you overlooked. Well, I had one of those moments this week. For the past month, I have been trying to figure out how I want to celebrate my birthday this year given that it feels like a significant one. This year I turn 50. After mulling over all my options, I decided that what I would really like to do is have a dinner party in which I would invite several of my past mentors to – people who, early in my life, shaped me greatly. What I envisioned was an evening much like the one portrayed in the movie Babette’s Feast – one of my all time favorite films.
If you don’t know the movie, it is the story of two elderly and pious Christian sisters – Martine and Philippa – who live in a small village on the remote western coast of Jutland in 19th century Denmark. Their father was a pastor who founded his own Christian sect. With their father now dead, and the austere sect drawing no new converts, the aging sisters preside over a dwindling congregation of white-haired believers.
The story flashes back 49 years, showing the sisters in their youth. The beautiful girls have many suitors, but their father rejects them all, and indeed derides marriage. Each daughter, however, is courted by an impassioned suitor visiting Jutland—Martine by a charming young Swedish cavalry officer, Lorens, sent to stay with his aunt in Jutland for the summer to correct bad behavior. Philippa is pursued by a star baritone, Achille Papin, from the Paris opera, on hiatus to the silence of the coast.