8-23-16 - Seating Order

It can be amusing at clergy gatherings watching people try to work their way toward the bishops, angling for seats next to them at meals. Access to the “important people” is often restricted. So imagine my bemusement when, in my first week in DC, I attended a conference and found myself sitting across from my new bishop at both lunch and dinner.

Jesus might have suggested I go to the other end of the table. He had a few things to say to those Pharisees who were observing his table manners so closely. In fact, he turned the tables on them: “If you’re invited to a wedding, go sit at the place furthest away from the action, where you feel the least honored. You might get upgraded, maybe to a table with the bride or groom’s family. But if you pick out that better seat, look out. You just might be asked to move.”

“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Some people go through life expecting to be seated in the “lesser” seats – and they tend to be a lot happier than those of us who think we know what seats we merit. It can be a great spiritual practice, to walk into any event or party and just end up where and with whom we end up, not trying to plan or maneuver it. I often find it difficult though – sometimes, instead of a delightful surprise, I just find I’m sitting with people I find uninteresting. And that just means I didn’t take the spiritual practice far enough. What I should have done was to seek Christ in them.

It doesn’t really matter where we sit, or with whom, as long as Jesus is at the table. And he’s already sent us an open invitation. So anytime you don’t know where else you’re going to land, go to his house. Every seat is perfect.

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