Holiday Innsight (from the archives of Keith Langdon)

 My wife and I were blessed with three sons, all of them involved in sports and a multitude of other school activities, and we were therefore responsible for a hectic schedule of transportation, practices, and programs.  As much as we enjoyed our children and their busy, daily commitments, we looked forward to a needed respite, and it finally came.  In celebration of an upcoming wedding anniversary, we had made reservations at a nice hotel in Fort Wayne, where we planned a quiet and restful weekend.  Grandparents had agreed to a short-term adoption of the kids, and despite the crowds of people we expected to encounter during this time just before Christmas, we were grateful for the anticipated time to ourselves. 
We had enjoyed a nice dinner on Friday night, a day of unstructured shopping, movie matinee, and fast food on Saturday, and now it was Sunday morning.  We had packed our suitcases for home, and had come to the hotel restaurant for breakfast before beginning our return trip.  It was in this same restaurant we had eaten the Friday night before, and we were familiar with the high-priced menu and formal atmosphere, but the hotel furnished breakfast for its guests, and this fit our budget nicely.
The restaurant was fairly new.  Flowered mirrors covered one wall.  The morning sun fell through a large skylight in the ceiling, and shone on the tall water goblets and individual bud vases decorating each table.  Linen tablecloths were color-coordinated with the leather-backed chairs, and soft Christmas music reflected the season.  A polite, well-groomed young man in a black vest and tie greeted us as we entered, and led us over the plush carpet to our table just beneath the skylight.
Just as we were seated, a movement in the direction of the door caught my attention.  A small group of people, apparently a family, had appeared at the door.  There were four of them.  A young woman in a very wrinkled dress and quite worn shoes held the hand of a small girl at her side.  The little girl had rather stringy hair and mismatched clothing, including a lightweight coat inappropriate for the season.  The young man with them was tall, thin, in need of a haircut, and wore an army coat and jeans.   They were followed by an old man.  He was white-haired, unshaven, and his drooping pants were barely held around his waist by a large belt.  He stood in a stooping position, and when he walked it was with a slow shuffle, one foot barely passing the other as he followed those in front of him.  
Immediately the question rose in my mind:  “What are *they* doing here?”
The family was greeted by the same young man who had greeted us, and he led them to a table in the back of the restaurant near the door to the kitchen.  All eyes glanced at the old man and his companions as he shuffled along behind them over the soft, expensive carpet that muffled the sound of their movement.  We glanced as well, without speaking.
A black-aproned waitress welcomed us with coffee, we adjusted the fine silverware and linens, and I adjusted my tie as we looked over the menu. 
To my right, I again caught movement, and I looked up to see the old man again.  He was shuffling towards the front of the restaurant.  In one hand he held the hand of the little girl, and in the other he carried the stained, green, army jacket.  He slowly worked his way towards the chrome coat rack near the entrance.
I watched the eyes of the other customers seated around us, and noticed that the old man was receiving more than quick glances from them as he passed.  Some frowns and other expressions of disapproval were seen.  Some stared and nudged those seated with them.
The Christmas music continued to play in the background.
And God spoke to my heart.
I leaned over to my wife and whispered, “He’s probably Jesus.”
She whispered back, “ I was thinking the same thing.”  She added, “Did you feel the need to ask for forgiveness?”
“Yes,” I answered.  “You too?”
She nodded.
My sympathy now went out not to the shuffling old man and his family who seemed so out of place in this room with the expensive furnishings, high prices, and coats and ties.  Now I felt sympathy for those whose hearts would not allow them to love those so noticeably different.  But for God’s Spirit, my wife and I would have remained among those people.  Thankfully, I was instead allowed a memory that has not left me since.  Perhaps the old man and his family came to breakfast that morning for our sakes.  Perhaps we needed to be reminded of all with which we had been blessed.  For whatever reason, God pricked our hearts that December Sunday morning near the celebration of the birth of Christ, and for that we were grateful.
And Jesus shuffled back to his seat.
“And the King shall answer and say to them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto Me.”   Matthew 25:40 


Keith Langdon