Luke 13:22-30
Dr. Robert J. Anderson
June 7, 2015


This story about Harold is a true story.  It is not about me under a different name, or about anyone you know.  There, however, is probably a little of Harold in each one of us.


Harold was one of those children who never seemed to fit in, although he wanted to very much.  He wasn’t athletic, though he was very interested in sports.  He often daydreamed about hitting the winning home run in the ninth inning with two outs, a runner on base, and being down one run, or scoring the winning touchdown or goal.  His reality was that he couldn’t catch or hit very well, and his hands were all thumbs when it came to handling a football.


Elementary School was a living hell for Harold.  Harold did like other things like nature and school.  He didn’t have any friends.  He was a nerd.  He was always the last one picked by a team in gym class.  His summer after completing fifth grade was very lonely, but there was hope at the end of the summer.  In the fall, he would begin middle school where there would be other students from other schools, and he could make friends.


The first day of Middle School, Harold got up happier than he had for a long time.  He had some energy today.  He got dressed for school with a smile on his face and a tune in his heart.  He walked out of the house with some energy in his steps and walked to the bus stop.  He got on the bus and found some people he didn’t know on board.  He sat down with them and began to get acquainted.  These new people actually seemed to like him.  Then he heard some yell from the back of the bus, “Oooh Harold!  Are you going to let Harold sit with you?  Harold’s a nerd!  He’s not cool!”   Suddenly the whole attitude of his new friends changed, and he could feel the wall go up and seal him out.  Middle School was no different than Elementary School and for three years he suffered as he had always suffered – alone with no friends!


As the summer between Middle School and Senior High School wound down, Harold’s hope wound up.  He hoped that Senior High School would be different.  He knew that students would come from different Middle Schools, and there would be people there who didn’t know about him, and he could make friends.  His hope wasn’t as high as it had been when he started Middle School, but, none-the-less, he had some hope things could be different.


His hope was short-lived.  When he approached people on the bus, and people looked friendly, others on the bus jeered and called him names like “Loser!” and said, “Harold!  No one likes Harold!”  The bus ride was a long one.


He made it through the first morning of classes - alone and with no friends.  The lunch bell rang, and he headed off to the cafeteria in hopes of making friends at the lunch table.  Being a klutz, Harold saw a line and headed straight for it.  Unfortunately, it was the beginning of the line.  Someone shouted, “Harold’s a loser!  He doesn’t even know how to find the end of the line!”  He slinked to the end of the line and got his food.  Then he looked for a seat.  He spotted one at a nearby table and walked toward it.  It was the table where the football players sat.  They hadn’t got there yet and Harold didn’t know it was their table.  He sat down.  Soon the players came and told him it was their table, and he had to leave.  He looked and saw another seat at another table and started toward it.  Someone said, “Here comes Harold, the loser.  Don’t let him sit here.”  As he approached the table, everyone slid their chairs around so that the space that was there evaporated.  He turned and looked around the cafeteria for another seat.  When he spotted one, he walked toward it, but the same thing happened again.  The space that was there disappeared.  He tried several more times with the same results.  Finally, with no place to sit, Harold went over to an empty wall and sat on the floor and ate his lunch.  The next day Harold tried to find a seat in the cafeteria but didn’t find any, and he went and sat on the floor and ate his lunch.  The next day Harold didn’t even bother trying to find a seat at a table.  He just went over and sat on the floor by himself and ate his lunch.  Every day Harold sat on the floor and ate his lunch by himself.


One weekend the local Presbyterian Church’s youth group went on a retreat to a nearby camp.  The theme of the retreat was God’s love and acceptance.  They talked about how good it feels to be accepted by God, how much God’s love means to them.  It was a wonderful retreat.  Everyone felt good on the ride home.  All through the weekend, each one had reached out to the other with God’s love, and they accepted one another.  On the way home, someone brought up the idea of what they should do now to continue the theme of the retreat.  Who in their world back home needed to feel God’s love and acceptance through them?  Almost with one voice they said, “Harold!”  But, having said that, they immediately backed off from that thought.  Harold was just too weird to accept.  Yet, the thought of Harold would not go away.  Finally, they decided that they would invite Harold to sit at their table in the cafeteria.


Monday came and the youth group was at their table.  They saw Harold come in, get his food, and head for his spot on the floor where he ate his lunch everyday.  One of the group said whose going to tell him to sit here?  Each one said, “Not me.  You do it.”  Harold walked past toward the wall.  “They said to one another, “We said we’d do it,” but no one jumped at the chance!  Harold kept walking toward the wall.  Finally, one of them shouted, “Harold!  Harold!  Sit here!  We want you to sit with us.”  Everyone in the cafeteria quit talking, stopped what they were doing, and turned to look at Harold.  Harold just turned and looked at the youth group and didn’t move.  “Harold, we want you to sit with us.”  The group moved to make room.  Harold didn’t move.  He’d been embarrassed too many times when the space evaporated as he approached.  “Harold, we want you to sit with us.”  One of the group got up and walked over to Harold.  He took his tray and said, “Harold, we want you to sit with us.”  Together they walked over to the table and Harold sat down.  He couldn’t believe this was happening to him.  There were a few awkward moments at first, but soon they were all talking  and it seemed they really wanted to be friends with Harold.


Others watching what happened yelled, “Harold’s a loser!  Anyone who lets Harold sit with them are losers!”  “Look at the table of losers!”


The next day Harold got his food and walked toward the wall for his usual seat.  He didn’t think they were really serious at wanting him to sit with them every day.  But, as he walked toward the wall, one of the group said, “Harold, we want you to sit with us.”  A smile broke out on his face, and he went and sat down.  The youth group found that Harold was all right.  He had a sense of humor.  He was smart.  He was sensitive and caring.  Harold found friends and sat with them every day in the cafeteria.


One Friday, the youth group had to go away to a meeting.  They piled into the van and headed off.  After they got settled in for the ride, one of them said, “Did anyone tell Harold we wouldn’t be in school today and not eating in the cafeteria?”  They all said, “No.  I thought you did!”  Oh no, what would Harold do at lunch?


Harold walked into the cafeteria; got his food, and turned to walk toward his usual table to eat with is friends.  He stopped dead in his tracks!  It was like he had walked into a glass wall.  The table was empty.  There was no one there!  The smile left his face and he felt a cloud settle on him.  Without energy, he turned and walked toward his old seat on the floor, against the wall, alone to eat his lunch.


Suddenly, someone yelled, “Harold!  We want you to sit with us!”  Someone else yelled from a different part of the cafeteria, “Harold!  We want you to sit with us!”  Someone else shouted, “Harold!  We want you to sit with us!”  Many people wanted Harold to sit with them.  Harold found friends and was accepted.


On the night of his arrest, Jesus gathered with his disciples and some others for the Passover.  During the meal he took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it and passed it to others as he said, “This is my body which is for you.”  Later he took a cup from the table and gave thanks for it.  He gave it to them saying, “This is the cup of the new covenant sealed with my blood.  Drink all of it.”


Please listen and hear Jesus say, “Joan, we want you to sit at our table.”  “Tom, we want you to sit at our table.”  “Jan, we want you to sit at our table.”  “Bill, we want you to sit at our table.”  You never have to sit by yourself, alone, with no friends.  Whenever, you have the opportunity to gather around this table filled with the gifts of God for the people of God – the body and blood of Christ – hear God’s voice saying to you, “We want you to sit at our table.”  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “We want you to sit at our table.”  You are loved and accepted by God.  Whenever you are feeling low, remember the words, “We want you to sit at our table.”  Whenever you feel hopeless, remember the words, “We want you to sit at our table.”