"You're in my seat," said the young woman, her jaw set, her eyes steely, her arms crossed across her chest and clutching her textbook.
I looked up and replied, "I'm sorry?"
"That's my seat. I picked it yesterday. It's MY SEAT."
"Well, alrighty, then," I thought. I had missed the first day of class and obviously had missed the fact that...
This. Was. Her. Seat.
So, I smiled, got up.. and took my seat... to another seat.
I thought about the classroom encounter as I sat in the sanctuary of my church awaiting the start of the Ash Wednesday service. The church was filling up almost to capacity. Worshipers were streaming in, some confidently striding to what most certainly was "their seat" but upon arriving at said pew, discovered that on this crowded night, "their seat" had been hijacked by another.
C'mon, admit it. You do the same thing. Your name may not be on the pew, but it might as well be. And, if you stroll in late one Sunday and find someone else's seat is parked in your seat, you are tempted to stand there---stare--- and say,
"You're. In. My. Seat."
Tonight, I entered the church not from the front doors, but from a side door, opposite from where I usually sit. I was one of the first ones to arrive. I stood for a moment, breathed in the air of the 200 year old church, settled my thoughts... and opened my eyes.
"Wait," I thought, "Something is different." At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. Then, as I slowly looked around me, I focused in on this.
I knew this stained glass window was here. I walk beneath it after receiving communion at the altar every Sunday. You know... as I head back to MY SEAT on MY side of the church. But, when I sit in MY SEAT each Sunday... on the opposite side of where I stood tonight... this is the wall I primarily see.
It's not a bad sight.. not bad at all...
But, I kind of liked the new view, as well. Which caused me to ponder... What would happen if we vowed to re-seat our seat every now and then?
What if, during this season of Lent, we went out of our way to look at the people, our surroundings and even our circumstances from a different point of view? What if we asked God to open our eyes to what HE wants us to see.. or where HE wants us to "sit?" What if there's something, or someone, beautiful out there that we pass by every day, but we never see.. because we don't want to switch seats? What if there is someone on the opposite side of the room.. ,the sanctuary.. the community.. or your family... who needs us to get out of our seat.. and come sit with them? What if we once or twice took the deliberate step of giving up OUR SEAT (or meal, or clothes, or time, or money) to someone who needs it more than we do.. or to someone who simply needs a new view?
As I made my way to MY SEAT... on MY side of the sanctuary, the place began to quickly fill. I sat in my pew, and turned my eyes forward to another stained glass window. This one:
I look at it every Sunday. Tonight, on Ash Wednesday, my eyes were drawn to the open arms of Jesus, who gave up HIS SEAT. He spent 40 days in a sacrificial posture before taking a journey that would give us all the opportunity to see...and live...in a whole new way. As I locked eyes with the eyes in the painting, I could almost hear Him say:
"Welcome to My house. By the way, you're in My seat. And, I am so glad about that."