Have you ever sat down somewhere that you never expected to sit? Over the years I’ve sat in a few unusual places. The First Minister’s seat during a visit to the Scottish Parliament, the terraces of the original Olympic stadium at Olympia in Greece or a precarious seat in an overcrowded minibus in Malawi are just some that spring to mind. No doubt many readers could add their own list of unusual or unlikely seats they have occupied.
A few weeks ago I found myself in another unlikely seat. I had the privilege of travelling with the East Fife squad for their game at Ibrox against Rangers. Most of the East Fife fans were sitting in the corner of the ground normally reserved for away fans. Since I was travelling with the official party that day, however, I had the opportunity to sit in the directors’ box. High up above the halfway line, it was a perfect view (even if it wasn’t a perfect result from my East Fife perspective).
I couldn’t help looking around and thinking that there were probably about 45,000 people who would have been happy to change seats with me that day. I also couldn’t help looking round and thinking, “What on earth am I doing, sitting here?” It was an exciting occasion and one that I will long remember. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity.
However I wasn’t in that seat because I was entitled to be there. I was there because I was invited by someone with the right to issue that invitation. Sometimes doors are unlocked and possibilities opened because we are with the right people.
One of the most frequent pictures of the kingdom of God which Jesus uses is the idea of a banquet or a feast. In one story he spoke about a wedding banquet where lots of guests were invited, but when the time came they made excuses and didn’t turn up. Instead the man holding the party sent out invitations to all sorts of unlikely people who would never have expected to be included in such a grand event. They came and enjoyed the party in place of the original guests.
The point of this story (and many others like it) is that we are welcome as part of God’s family, welcome at His banquet. That’s not because of who we are, but because of the person who invites us. Jesus is the one with the “access all areas” pass, whose invitation gets us to places we could never go to on our own.
Occasionally the right invitation from the right person will get you into a seat you never expected to be sitting in, and at the heart of Christian faith is the belief that we can be welcome at God’s party because of the invitation Jesus gives.