On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” ~ Luke 14:1, 7-14
I'm not going to lie. I admit that there have been some dinners in my life where I jockeyed for a position at the table that wasn't one of the 'lower' places. Usually it's because I want to sit next to someone I'll feel comfortable talking to.
And most dinner parties I've ever thrown have included those near or dear to me.
But some of the most wonderful dinners I've been a part of were times when I ate with or invited someone to my table who was unexpected.
And I'll bet the same was true for you.
Maybe it was a Thanksgiving meal where someone with no family around found welcome. Or a meal shared with the homeless at a soup kitchen.
A memorable one for me was when Lutheran nun from Tanzania stayed in my home during her visit to the US.
When we don't seek to be comfortable, we open ourselves up to a different kind of comfort: one where we become connected to the unexpected.
When we open ourselves up to humility, we open ourselves up to a different kind of acclaim.
An acclaim that we sometimes call grace.
Holy One, help me today to steer clear of the comfortable and reach for the unexpected. Amen