Sometimes when I’m working on a sermon, I get caught up in the “engaging the text” part of sermon prep. According to my preaching professor, this is the first step during which you do not crack open a commentary, but just let the text speak to you. While working on the passage from Luke 4 that I posted about yesterday, I found myself really wanting to talk to the person who, like me, often forgets that they were invited to the party, and therefore has nothing left to prove.
Hey, you. Yeah, you. You know who I’m talking to. You, the one standing in the corner over there. Do you know that you’ve been invited to this party?
Just like that guy in his cool hipster skinny jeans and flannel shirt chatting up the tall, beautiful girl with perfect brown, layered, flowing hair wearing the dress that falls along her thin figure accentuating all her barely visible, but perfectly shaped curves.
You were invited, just like the old man at the head of the table wearing his seersucker pants, white polo, and state championship ring (probably from some pretentious sport he played in high school).
Just like the clean shaven, medium height, middle-aged man without the slightest trace of balding in his thick black hair, which is smeared with gel creating the same picturesque “do” sported by the likes of Rob Lowe and Alec Baldwin. That man in the fancy looking suit that he clearly bought at JC Penney because he wanted to look like he could afford the latest JosABank line item. You see him over there schmoozing the host, hoping for a better seat at the table… more invites to the club… maybe even a ticket to the next big show the host’s company is sponsoring?
Yeah, I know you see him. But guess what? He got the same invitation you did. The same 5X7 envelope with the “I Love Lucy” postage stamp in the upper right corner and small, chicken-scratch handwriting front and center.
Look around. All the people you’re “sizing up?” The ones you think are better than you, prettier than you, or simply have more right to be here than you do? They all got the same piece of glossy paper with the words, “You’re invited!” in big, bold letters across the top.
Just like you, most of them (with the exception of that hipster guy who wears the same outfit every day) spent hours deciding what they would wear and how they would fix their hair. Like you, many of them wondered if they would know anyone at the party, what they would talk about, and how they would fit in.
You’re in the corner thinking about how miserable you are. You’re looking around at all of them, mystified that you were ever invited to such an affair. And you’re not giving any of “them” a chance because you won’t give yourself a chance.
I dare you.
I dare you to believe that you are enough, even with all your flaws – your nose that feels too big for your face, your hair that “makes your face look fat,” and all the other things that get in the way of seeing your own worth. I dare you to look at yourself and claim your personhood. Declare yourself valuable.
I dare you to look at yourself – the way you’re looking at all the other people in this room – like you are meant to be here.
Because you are! Your presence here is intentional. Your host likes you. Your host values your company. And your host thinks you have something special to offer the community gathered at her house today.
Most importantly, you are wanted here. You. And the hipster dude. And that girl who’s too attractive for her own good. And the state champion guy. And the greasy-haired Rob Lowe look-alike. All of you were meant to be in this room together. All of you, without exception.
So, take a few steps forward… and a few more… Come out of the corner and join the party! You might find your best friend among this vastly growing group of characters. Or you might find that the girl whose petite curves drove you to insane jealousy needs your compassionate and loving presence to help her navigate the world of people who can’t see past her looks.
Join the party! You may find that the host is ecstatic to welcome you into her community of friends and loved ones.
Join the party! You may just find that you belong here.