When I was a little girl, I can still remember seeing a picture of Jesus. He had curly blonde hair, blue, blue eyes and skin as fair as fair can be. Is that how we picture our Jesus? Do we really grasp how Jesus looked the battering and scars that he bore for us? Sure we see the crown of thorns on his head and the idea of the picture of him as he hangs from the cross but do we gloss over these distasteful images and pass on to his resurrection because its so much cleaner and happier. Would we even recognize him if he were to walk down the street towards us or would we cross the street to the other side in fear of being robbed or possibly even touching him?
This was brought home to me in a very poignant way while I was in Mississippi. I went down to work as head of the base camp so that Dee & Jack Boring, the head of St. Paul’s Camp, could coordinate with the field teams. Monday evening we had just finished serving all 104 people and had sat down to eat. A man came in through the front doors of the church and right into the social hall. The man was scruffy – but what one of us wasn’t at that hour and after a days work. He walked right up to me (and I was sitting at the middle of the table) and asked if he was too late to get a bite to eat. I told him no – there was still plenty left. I figured he was one of the workers which I didn’t recognize. Yes, his clothes were tattered and worn but then I wouldn’t wear my Sunday best while roofing or working on houses either. He quietly slipped back into the kitchen, brought out a steaming plate of food, sat at a table near us but alone. I noticed he paused before eating (I believe to say grace) then quietly listened to devotions and chatter around him. When he was done he picked up his plate cleared the table even putting the silverware in the proper pans, came back and thanked us for the meal and quietly slipped back out the front doors. It finally struck me that we had had a guest that night. We may not have gone overboard welcoming him but then I don’t think he would have felt any more welcomed if we had known he wasn’t “one of us”. This was not a “public meal” but I know if he had come back the next night, I would have seen to it that he was fed again. Did we have Jesus with us? I don’t know and never will but I kept on thinking about the Statement from Matthew 25, “What ever you do for the least of these my brothers, you do it unto me.”
Jesus loved the poor and he accosted the comfortable. Are we too comfortable too? Would his blood and dirt stain our carpets? Would Jesus be welcomed here? I pray he would be. I pray I would recognize him – but would I?