"Teacher," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."
When Pastor Wallace and his wife go on vacation, they enjoy visiting a new church on Sundays. Wallace prefers to sit in the back pews where he can better observe the congregation as they engage in worship.
On this particular Sunday, his attention is drawn to the pew tw0 rows up.
At one end, a middle-aged man sits passively, looking straight ahead. The embroidered badge on the left sleeve of his shirt indicates he is employed by the county's sanitation department.
In the center of the pew is seated a young man dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt. He rocks back and forth. Constantly. Wallace wonders if he might be autistic.
Just before the service begins, an elderly woman, elegant in her diamond rings, stylish coiffure, and mink stole, slips into that pew and takes her seat next to the aisle. The fragrance of her designer perfume hangs lazily in the air.
Three very different persons. All in the same pew, though not sitting together. Participating in worship, but not interacting with one another.
Wallace watches. And, wonders about this seemingly incongruous threesome. Is there any rhyme or reason for them sitting there? Or, is it simply random?
It is Communion Sunday. Everyone will soon leave their seats, pew by pew, to share in the Lord's Supper.
As the organ plays, the ushers move methodically down the center aisle.
One finally reaches the row of three, signaling them to exit. What happens next is the very last thing Wallace would ever have imagined.
And, the very best . . .
The elderly lady stands, steps into the aisle, and waits.
For the young man in the jeans and t-shirt to join her.
They wait together for the garbage collector.
Then, arm in arm, up the aisle they walk.
To feast as one at the table of the Lord.
Where Jesus welcomes all His children.
Can you overlook social and economic differences in others? Are you striving to see Christ living in them?
Will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, we can so easily, like John, dismiss other Christians who are "not one of us". Help us to see and You see and love as You love, knowing we are all Your children. Thank You for Your precious Son, Jesus, whose table has room for us all. Amen.
Psalms 31 or 35
Exodus 4:10-20 (21-26) 27-31
1 Corinthians 14:1-19