Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. – Proverbs 25:6-7 (NRSV)
Recently I accompanied my wife to a wedding she officiated for a young woman who grew up in the congregation she serves. I haven’t been to any large social gatherings since before the pandemic and went back and forth about whether to attend. Who would miss me, anyway?
One of the great helps to wedding guests are those little place cards with the table numbers. There is no chance that we can run the risk the proverb warns against, a caution echoed by Jesus in his parable about the wedding banquet. Don’t put yourself too high; give your host a chance to show you where you belong. When I am out in the world as a clergy spouse, I take this advice to heart. My goals are to be friendly, flexible, and operate with the reasonable expectation that no one will be all that interested in me.
I received an enthusiastic welcome from the bride’s family. Still, it was a surprise to go into dinner, look for the number on our place cards, and find we were seated with the bride’s parents, grandparents, and close family friends.
It’s easy, after 2+ years of pandemic, to forget that people want to be with us. We may know not to place ourselves too high, but if we don’t show up, we’ll never know how wanted we are.
Holy One, give us the wisdom to show up, the humility to find our place, and the openness to receive kindness from others. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.