All I need to learn from Jesus, I learned from brown cafeteria trays.
They take me back to my grandma’s very crowded house, filled with our very large family, on Christmas Eve. The dining room and table were far from large enough for the crowd, but it was never a problem. When the table filled up, you grabbed a tray. No one was left out or forced to wait for room to enjoy the food and fellowship. Grab a tray, find a spot somewhere, and settle in for good food with a side of familiar conversation.
It was always so crowded, so loud, and so hot, but I didn’t care. My family was all together on Christmas Eve. We were having fun, getting presents, and taking a break from the world to bask in love. Short of a small, dirty, crowded manger many years before, I can’t think of a better place for a Christmas story to be lived.
My heart was taken back to those Christmas Eve meals the first time I walked into my son’s Sunday school class to see many tiny people scattered about the floor in a haphazard circle-oval-octagon sort of shape coloring pictures of the good shepherd. There was no table to be seen, just brown plastic cafeteria trays filled with crayons and colorfully marked papers.
“We backed up to make room for us all,” my son shared later, “It’s nice we don’t have a table to get in the way. We can make lots of room if more friends come.”
From His birth to His work as our shepherd, the reminder of His love and promise to care for all of us is so very clear. It doesn’t matter if you are in a crowded place, without table, young, or old – with Jesus there is always room for everyone. Grab a tray and find a spot for His love to shine in on you.
Luke 2:7 says “…they placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available.
Jesus’ story started with no room. No place for him. No one made a space for Him in their homes or the inn, but Jesus’ still found a spot. They squeezed in where they could fit, filled the space with love, and the news spread from this humble small spot. The Greatest story ever told began to unfold in the least likely of places. We hear a similar story when Jesus speaks about us in the story of the Good Shepherd later in his life.
John 10:16 “…I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”
No room in the sheep pen? No problem! Get another. When that one is full? Get another. No one is turned away or forgotten with Jesus. He remembers all of us, scattered around the world. Like a crowded family celebration or preschool Sunday school room, there is always room for more. Grab a brown cafeteria tray, make a little room, and let everyone in. Jesus is for everyone. Jesus’ love is for us all.