He was wearing a mustard dinner jacket. I think it was wool. It was the kind of jacket with faux-leather patches on the elbows. I don’t know what those leather patches are for. I suppose they are to keep one’s elbows from being worn out whilst one props their head up on a table. But then again, one found wearing mustard dinner jackets are not often found with their elbows on tables.
Nevertheless, this gentleman, if we can call him that, was wearing this mustard dinner jacket. It looked as if it had not been washed in a few weeks. Then again, a coat that has not been washed in a few weeks, looks remarkably similar to a coat that has not been washed in a few months. A smattering of stains and a generous helping of smudges and smears could be seen on the coat. This particular gentleman also wore a pair of muddy jeans. Too large for him, and starting to show holes around the back pocket and the front right knee. And, like that mustard dinner jacket, it also not been washed in a few weeks.
His face was worn, with stories of lifetimes in the creases of his face. It was scraggly, apparently shaved with a dull razor. And his hair, disheveled– a musty brown with wiry strands of white here and there. But perhaps most disconcerting was his smell. The aroma of body, heat, and fatigue made him nearly unapproachable. The smell of laziness is what our culture describes it as. The smell of one who does not work.
He was not the usual type of visitor to church. But we’ve all read the Bible (or at least the parts of it that we like), and we imagine that God loves the poor. And so one or two (more holy members of the congregation I assume), made their way to him, greeted him and showed him a place to sit. Naturally I sat at a distance because I had other responsibilities to tend to, and I didn’t want to have to get up and leave him alone. Better to not sit next to him in the first place, I thought.
I stared at him. Or at least I stared at him from behind. I’m far too wise to stare at him face to face. That would be rude. So instead, I sat at the back and kept an eye on him. Would he fall asleep in a drunken stupor? Would he take money out of the offering bags? Then I caught myself, and thought, how un-Christian of me. No, no, I should have compassion. Yes. Ahh, this poor troubled homeless soul. May he find some refuge here for today.
And then there was worship. And then the message. And then there was some more singing. I couldn’t pay much attention to the worship or the message that day since I was making sure this gentleman didn’t cause any trouble. After all, as a long-standing member of this community, it was my duty and responsibility to keep watch over any gentleman in the mustard jackets with the faux-leather elbow patches. I must protect my fellow brothers from any wolves in sheep’s clothing.
And then the service ended. He got up from his seat and headed towards the back. Politely, I moved out of the way so as not to obstruct him. He had a few biscuits and a cup of tea. And then eventually left. A small smile crept across my face as I was filled with a sense of relief that he had gone without causing any trouble. I stopped in reflection and thought, how nice that our church can welcome any stranger off the street. Even one wearing a rather tacky mustard dinner jacket with faux-leather patches on the elbows.
That evening, whilst listening to the rain pitter-pattering on the window, I fell asleep, glad that I had kept the church safe from any wolves in sheep’s clothing.
James 2:1-4 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
This was a work of fiction in reflection of this week’s message Jesus.
May we strive to be a genuine community of God’s people. A community who reflects the consistent love of Christ.