Yesterday as I sat in church, a giant of a man, mentally handicapped, sat behind me breathing so loudly, if I closed my eyes, it was easy to picture myself in a hospial with a respitory machine at my left shoulder... or maybe Darth Vader.
As Roger began preaching from the lectionary text, I heard a small voice coming from within the congregation. I looked at the woman sitting next to me and we smiled at each other, both recognizing and confirming the sound. It was a little girl, situated among the adults, so content with her placement that she was humming. Though I couldn't find her, I pictured her looking down at whatever picture she was drawing, or puzzle she was working, humming. Happily humming to herself.
The text was on the banqueting table, and never taking your place of honor, but remaining humble to be put in your place only by the host. Similarly, it was on who we invite to the feast, leaving the door open enough to not offer the easy invitations to our friends, the prestigious, the ones who make us look good, or the ones who are easy to be around. It is about being humble enough, comfortable enough with who we are, to acknowledge the least of these, those who really need to be at the banqueting table.
Roger said, if this doesn't make your stomach turn, you're either made it to true humility or you aren't processing what I've said. Invite the least.
I was sitting by Darth Vader and the humming child and I understood what he meant. And as I pictured in my mind the most difficult people it would be for me to invite to honor in my house, to shower a great feast upon, to spend time with, and as I lamented the thought, I was also struck by the beauty of where I was in that moment. I was a actually sitting by some people's least of these, and it was a beautiful picture of community.
I could tell that some people around the giant man whose breathing could be heard for pews and pews looked around with irritation. But others shook his hand and asked how his week had been. Some rolled their eyes at the little girl who never stopped humming, while others giggled and shrugged their shoulders. This was community. One another infringing on each other, overlapping the circles of our lives to join together before God.
The least of these and the greatest of these, all humbled before the cross, before communion, before the confirmation we receive as children of God. All ready to partake of the feast.