I Belong…Wednesday of Holy Week

I have to admit, I am getting accustomed to being around this group.  Sometimes I feel out of place – like an extra person that doesn’t belong or a third person in a courting ritual.  Judas, the one who invited me, assures me I am welcome.  So I tag along – mostly to spend time soaking it all in.  If I’m honest, after the experience I had with Jesus proclaiming the children of the light, I just can’t walk away.  I’m captivated by his presence.  It feels as though I have known him my entire life, yet it has only been a short time.  When he looks at me, it is a look I can’t really describe.  It almost sounds weird to say it, but it makes me feel worthy. I don’t know how a look can do this – but Jesus has it.

This particular night, the mood was so somber and I felt as though I was a part of something that I was not ready for.  Jesus didn’t seem his usual self.  Something must have been on his mind.  He is always so caring and compassionate that I can’t remember him with this sense of heaviness.  It made me feel uneasy.  In the short time I had gotten to meet him, I had already begun to look to him for reassurance.  This was difficult.

He said something about someone betraying him, like someone at dinner that night.  I thought to myself – they sure have some nerve showing up to dinner.  But the weight of the sentence slowly settled over me like a heavy wet blanket.  It seemed to take my breath away.  Someone would betray him – I had trouble focusing.  My mind went through a thousand scenarios of what this could even mean.  How would anyone do that?  Had these people not heard him?  Had they not felt his presence?  Had they not seen the love and compassion that he gave to everyone around?  What did they not get?  And how would anyone really do anything against him?  I know he made the people in charge mad (okay, he made them downright angry and violent) – but they weren’t here.  The people around this table were people like me.  We had all come because this was where we wanted to be.  We wanted to hear more, learn more, grow more.  We wanted to be here.

I’ll never forget the very first dinner Judas invited me to with Jesus.  I was so intimidated.  I am an average worker, no one really knows who I am.  I make enough to feed my family and that is about it.  I’m not anyone special.  But Judas assured me – like he always did – that I would not feel out of place.  We had been friends since birth and I trusted him.  So I went.  I remember walking in and feeling as though I had been there before.  It was like walking into my grandparent’s home where the smell of the food brought such happiness as it filled my lungs.  It was the hug you always craved from family that loves you.  The fellowship was warm and inviting like sitting with old friends you haven’t seen in a while.  Jesus made me feel especially welcome.  He took the time to hear my story, to learn more about me.  And he never forgot my name.  Even today as I sit at this table, he knows my name.  This man that sees so many people every day knows who I am.  Somehow, I always feel invited to his table – no matter how I look or feel – no matter if I have just come out of the field or in the best clothes I have – whether I have had a chance to wash my feet or walk in without any proper preparation – I am always invited.  I feel like he welcomes me where I am – just like I am – no special presentation needed.

I have to snap back to reality – to what is going on in this moment.  As Jesus announces that someone is going to betray him, someone at the table, I notice Peter and John whispering – and then talking to Jesus.  Jesus says something to my friend Judas.  He gets up, takes his stuff and leaves.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  Do I stay?  Do I need to leave since the one that invited me has left?  Judas didn’t look my way or give me any indication of what was happening.  For a moment, I once again felt out of place, like maybe I should leave.  But I looked at Jesus and in a split second, I knew I was right where I belonged.  I had a place at the table and he loved me.  He knew my name and I belonged.  I could stay – I was beginning to realize I really was a child of the Light.

Focus scripture for today: John 13:21-30

21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”[g] So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.[h] 27 After he received the piece of bread,[i]Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

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