Clothed in Grace

Brothers and sisters,

Over the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things we talked about this past Sunday. In particular, I’ve thought about the way Saul’s armor constrained David, the way it prevented him from moving. Ultimately, David cast the armor aside because he knew it would prevent him from being faithful. It would hinder his ability to serve God. And it reminded me of a story from my time as a waiter.

After undergrad, I took some time off from school before heading to seminary. During that time, I worked for a few months as a waiter at Logan’s Roadhouse in Goldsboro, my hometown. The job was good and the people I worked with were fun and interesting. And, honestly, most of the time the customers were fun and interesting as well — though a few tables I served still stick out in my mind. One of them in particular came in during a weekday lunch rush. The party consisted of four men and I quickly recognized what I was looking at. Three of the men had badges on their shirt pockets from the local mental hospital. One man didn’t and I could tell by the way the other three were interacting with him that he was either a patient or someone they knew who lived with mental illness (I’ll call him Harry).

That, in and of itself, was not all that unusual. What struck me about these four men was the way they so clearly cared about each other. When they sat at my table, one of the men, I’ll call him Joe, sat directly beside Harry, wrapped his arm around him, and said, “Alright man, isn’t this special? We’re here at Logan’s! What sounds good to you?” With that, Joe began to read the entire menu to his friend and describe everything to him. Harry was mostly non-verbal, but it didn’t matter. His friends understood him. As those two worked through the menu, one of the other guys (Frank) ordered for himself and Joe. The fourth man (Tommy) was busy getting silverware allocated and making sure everything on the table was just right.

Eventually, I got everyone’s order, put it in to the kitchen, and brought the food out to them. The whole time, all four were carrying on a conversation and having a great time. When the food hit the table, the three workers set into helping each other. Joe kept talking with Harry, hyping up his food, and cutting Harry’s chicken tenders and fries up so he could eat them easily. He asked for a side of barbecue sauce, Harry’s favorite, and I quickly got some for him. While that was happening, Tommy immediately started eating so he could be done in time to switch out with Joe, and Frank was cutting up Joe’s steak so he could eat it quickly after he switched out. All of this happened without a word of coordination between them. They had done this before. They knew how to care for each other. When Harry’s food came and he danced, they all danced. When Harry wanted to speak, they listened. When Joe, Frank, or Tommy spoke, Harry would listen too. And when they each needed help from each other, help came without hesitation.

Saul’s armor, that worldly armor, con-strained David and did not allow him to move. David understood that the only thing he needed to carry with him was the grace of God. In a similar way, those four men wore no worldly armor. No pride. No anger. No impatience. No vanity. Instead, they were clothed in love and mercy, respect and dignity, joy and humility. I think about those four guys a lot because I am convinced that on that day, in a Logan’s Roadhouse, I caught a glimpse of the kingdom of God. May we all seek to clothe ourselves in God’s grace.

Grace and peace to you all,
Pastor Ben