The Head of the Table
“I’ll have a glass of Merlot to go with my sirloin,” I said from my chair at the head of the table. It’s toxic, this chair’s honor, respect, admiration. “Pass the bottle again.” They laughed at my jokes, so I told more at others’ expense. I felt the exuberance instigated by the fruit of the vine as I sat at the table’s head.
There was an unknown man at the table’s other end. I had not noticed him till now, his form concealed in the shadows. He arose and began pouring wine, pausing behind each guest, filling each glass with care. I felt the air move behind me as he stopped, poured, and passed on. Stories were embellished at our table as this mysterious man did our bidding.
I thought he was one of us, a guest, until he retrieved the dirty plates and the scraps of our meal. He retired to the kitchen to wash and scrub the stacks of dinnerware. My friends continued their laughter, but I was fixated on his inconspicuous nature. No one asked for his service, he simply gave it. I could offer no assistance; I only watched passively. With the wine dissipating in my bloodstream, I felt strangely ashamed to be sitting so worthlessly in my chair at the head of the table.
Our evening concluded. As he collected his coat to depart, I realized he had no uniform, no time card, no badge with a name on it. A stranger served us, and no one knew who we was. He accepted no tip. He kept no score and marked no debt.
As he left (I didn’t want him to leave), I extended my hand to shake his. His right hand came out of his coat pocket, revealing a scarred palm clearly mangled by some horrific accident. I felt sorry for him, but his face showed no shame, only the pride of service. As he gripped my right hand, I saw the white of his eyes. “Thank you,” is all I could say. He said nothing in response, only a smile that was genuine and true. I had a serendipitous feeling I would see him again, but not at a table.
“I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:27
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:28
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