Our faith journey is individual and yet in community. It is in many ways counter-cultural, as Jesus taught us “the first will be last” in heaven. Today’s Bible reading from the Gospel of Luke is the parable of choosing a place at the table.
We all have family traditions of who sits where at the table, who is served first, especially at a banquet, a wedding, or a holiday gathering. This parable is about who is invited; is the guest list made up to impress others or to be inclusive of all, especially the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. It is about the heavenly table and resurrection, using an example from our lives.
When we enter the home of a Burmese refugee family, they welcome us as a trusted, honored friend. Even after living in a refugee camp for over 20 years, they show respect, humility and tradition. They, who have lost everything material, have strong family and community connections. They are patient and eager to learn about this new home, going to work, learning how to navigate a new world. They show us their strong faith in God by their example.
One Olympic team was made up of refugees. I was overjoyed that they chose to demonstrate community in this way, they were welcomed by the Olympic powers that be, and they received wholehearted support from the audiences. What a witness to our world, with our priorities often askew! It was a message of hope to other refugees, and a message that their lives are important.
There is a place for everyone at the table. We are here, in Christ, to help that happen!