Sunday, March 12, 2017

Leftovers on the Playground

Most of us remember that scenario.  Line up for teams.  The lucky, special ones get to be captains, and choose with whom they want to play.  Until there is one person left.  Then, like it or not, whomever’s turn it is to ‘pick’ no longer ‘picks’ (since choice has been eliminated) but ‘takes’ the ‘leftover.’

That term ‘snowflake’ that keeps making its way around?  Coined by the captains.  It is so easy to denigrate others when you are the one in power.  Leave it to the captains to demean that which is unique and sacred.

Being picked last isn’t about a wounded ego over being picked last, nor is it about jealousy of those who were picked first.  Being picked last is ultimately about realizing that, given a legitimate choice, no one wanted you.  That’s why it hurts.  Because no one wanted you. 

And for that matter, no one really needed you either. If you hadn’t existed, the game would have gone on without you, and no one would have noticed the difference. To be the last pick is, as is commonly stated about the last pick in a sports league draft, to be “Mr. or Ms. Irrelevant.” You didn’t get chosen because you were significantly valued in some way; you got taken because the last one picking had no choice but to take the ‘leftover.’

What kind of life is that? It is a meaningless life, in which not only do you have no value to anyone who needs someone, but you have no desirability to anyone who wants someone. It is to lose at life not once, but twice. A double failure, without hope. Can anyone really blame Judas Iscariot for hanging himself?

I am reminded of Jesus when he feeds a large number of people with a very small amount of food, and his disciples gather up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces afterwards. Jesus—and specifically those who follow Jesus—pick up the leftovers, so that no one will be left behind, cast aside, or considered ‘waste.’

This is usually, on the rare occasion it gets this far, where the discussion stops. Jesus loves ‘even’ (a ‘waste’ of a human such as) you. Jesus feels sorry for you. So Jesus will be the One who makes sure someone picks you up.

This is not enough. Not nearly enough. It is enablement. But Jesus brings empowerment. Enablement reinforces entitlement. But empowerment smashes entitlement to pieces.

Jesus himself comes to us as the One Who is Last. But—surprise!—Jesus is also the One Who is First. And so Jesus brings the First and the Last together, because all are loved, all are wanted, all are needed, all are desired. The first are called to be last, and the last are empowered to be first.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a church that reflected this reality of Jesus?

Let me know when you find one…

I didn’t think so…

But like Abraham in the Jewish tradition, we can choose to ‘hope against hope’ in what God has promised.

And we can come together as an Ekklesia (a community) where the last are empowered to be the first, and the first are called to be the last.

I think that is what Jesus would have us to do. So let’s do it.

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