In the presence of my enemy

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemy.” — Psalm 23

A good friend passed away. As I prepared his Celebration of Life service, I reflected on so many stories. He was an older gentleman, who loved me deeply. Looking past my faults, he believed I was excellent pastor. And in my early years here he set out to help everyone see this “fact”.

Of course not every older person was sold on me – a young man with a knack for not wearing ties. So my friend asked me to lunch and then took me to visit one of the unsure. Each month the routine was the same. We went to Burger King for lunch (I could not convince him of other locations, though he was a chef who made excellent apple pies, all he wanted was Whopper with fries –using a buy one get one coupon he paid for mine). Then we made our way to an unsure’s house for coffee and snacks. Sitting, talking, laughing. All in support of me.

These thoughts swirled in my head as I prepared. He left multiple scriptures to use in the service. One was the 23rd Psalm. Of course I always try to personalize the message. I seek to show how the person exemplified the passage and in doing so revealed Christ. So I thought of how my friend prepared a place for me in the presence of my enemies…

But as I reflected, I realized, he wasn’t just making the case that I was delightful. He was also making the case that they were equally delightful.

And this made me rethink the 23rd Psalm. I have always thought of my enemy on the outside, watching me eat the communion meal prepared. I do believe that is the original Old Testament intention. But Jesus has given new meaning to our calling. New meaning to the Old Testament. And as I sit at the table of God, the table is expanding. Leaves are being added. Chairs pulling up. Place settings added. And there across from me in a seat set for my enemy.

“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be called children of your Father in heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:44-45

The ones I avoid, even prefer to left out, are also invited. They are also loved. Each of us children of the Creator.

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