My friend Richard was being recruited about 100 years ago by my college alma mater. He was a rather gifted athlete and the football team wanted to get to know some of the talent pool. The weekend event was basically a sales pitch, complete with meals and a variety of gatherings and Richard was allowed to bring buddies. He did not need to convince me that I needed to go with him when he asked. Free meals, hobnobbing with coaches, talking with players and meeting girls who might think I was a highly recruited linebacker sounded like a good way to spend the weekend. The linebacker plan did not work out, but the meals were more than adequate.
The most memorable event of the weekend involved one of the morning breakfasts. I saw her across a crowded room and our eyes did not meet. She looked….well she looked prepared with her hairnet and large serving spoon. She was a vision of no nonsense and efficiency. It was none other than the gruff “lunch lady who never smiled”. My dormitory crowd knew her well. She never honored us with upturned lips and white teeth as she slammed our mealtime grub on the plate with a less than halfhearted “May I serve you? But today at this most memorable breakfast with champions she was different. She wasn’t smiling, she was grinning from ear to ear as she giddily greeted the recruits with …”good morning, what can I get you honey” as she piled portions on the plate that took those of us in the dorm two trips to her work station to attain . On this day however, I was Andy Oliver, five star linebacker and she piled my plate high and greeted me with a smile I would never see again. When the next semester rolled around I was once again a lowly student housing nuisance and once again this vision of no nonsense, efficient service was performing her tasks with less than a grin and more of a grimace.
I would be highly judgmental if I wrote about her behavior without confessing my own sin. There have been times when I have judged a book by its cover and treated someone differently because of what they wore, the way they talked or where they lived. Maybe you have done it too. When tempted to do so the Holy Spirit of God often confronts and chides me with these words from the Letter of James and you may see this scripture as a needed bit of advice as well:
If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him and you say to the man in the suit…”Sit here sir, this is the best seat in the house” and either ignore the street person or say, “ Better sit here in the back row” , haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted ? (James 2:1-4….The Message)
Thank you Poplar Springs for making all feel welcomed. Keep smiling and making those we greet feel valued.