10th September 2021

Suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewellery, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?… It is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you favour some people over others… (James 2:24, 8–9 NLT)

Are you rich or poor? Maybe I am being a bit personal. What I mean is – do you see yourself as the rich guest or the poor guest in this tale? Or are you the steward?

Read the story as if you were the steward showing the guests to their (Covid-secure) seats. Are you judging them on their appearance? “Isn’t that a new coat? Come and sit next to me. Have you washed recently? Perhaps a seat by the open door may suit you.”

Read the story again, this time imagining you are the rich person. Are you expecting the best seats? What would you think if you were to be seated in the draught by the fire exit?

And finally read the story as the poor person. You are used to getting second-best. Maybe that’s what you expect. “Come and sit in the comfy seats. Would you like a warm blanket? How about a drink?” How do you feel about entering the church now?

Ian Waddington