Sermon:
This week I met a young man who was very clear about what he needed. He came here to the church to participate in a wedding rehearsal. We began to talk about weddings. He expressed the hope that this wedding would not be like the last wedding he had attended. In that earlier wedding, he had been an usher; but he knew no one other that the groom. After the service, when everyone got to the reception, they told him he was not on the master list for a seat at the tables. That surprised him, but he was sure that not only did he have a seat, but that, as an usher, he would even be at the head table. So he went to the wedding coordinator to claim his place. He told me that the coordinator looked him up and down, consulted his lists, whispered to the groom, and finally pronounced the verdict, ďThere is no place for you. Iím sorry, but you are not invited.Ē

The young man told me that he spent the rest of the evening wandering about, grazing for hors díoeuvres, and trying to find some place just to fit in. He admitted that he finally left, dissolved in tears.

It hurts when there is no way to fit in. Itís painful when others are experiencing oneness, and you canít have it. Itís agonizing when the message comes down, sometimes spoken, sometimes silent, that you donít belong. You donít fit in. You are not invited. That really hurts.

Oh, there are some times and place where fitting in doesnít matter. It doesnít matter if you are on a Metro car. I donít know about you, but I donít want to be included in other peopleís conversations on the Metro! I want to be left alone. If all Iím doing is taking a ride somewhere, I donít need to get involved with anyone else. I donít need to fit in.

Fitting in doesnít matter if you are at some public event like a game or a concert. Who is next to me and whether they speak to me is completely immaterial. Iím there for the show. Iím there for the entertainment. I donít need my neighborís life story, and I donít intend to inflict mine on him. Iím there for the show, and oneness is beside the point. Fitting in is an unnecessary luxury.

But if you intend to do something more than take a ride or watch the show, it is vital to find oneness with the others around you. If you intend to do something more than take a ride or watch the show, it is crucial to know that you belong, to see that you fit in, to have a place at the table.

God wants to give his children the gift of oneness. God wants us as the body of Christ to have the gift of unity. He is eager to give it! Itís not a matter of looking for it or working to make it happen. Itís a matter of accepting the gift.

Once I gave a friend a gift Ė a little book that I thought would address something he was dealing with. My friend took the carefully wrapped package from my hand, gave it a once-over, mumbled a hurried ďthank youĒ, and pitched it over on a shelf. Two weeks later, when I visited his office again, my gift was still there,