“Go and take your place.”
Depending on the context, these words can be demeaning:
• Go and take your place… on the other side of the border. You don’t belong here. Go back to where you came from, O Immigrant!
• Go and take your place… back behind the walls of prison. You have no place in society, for once a criminal, always a criminal, O Felon!
• Go and take your place… in the pew or anywhere else in the church except at the ambo or altar. You’re not welcome to preach or preside here, O Woman!
• Go and take your place…
Coming from the lips of an angel, however, these words can be empowering:
• “Go and take your place in the Temple,” the angel said to the disciples, releasing them from prison, “Tell the people everything about this life.”
• “Go and take your place” were the words behind everything Jesus did and said. His words reminded his listeners that their rightful place was as beloved children of God. His healing ministry demonstrated that the rightful place of those who were sick or outcast was in the midst of the community, not separated from it. His response to the Pharisees and Sadducees was that the rightful place of the law in the lives of the people was in its spirit, not in its every jot and tittle.
“Go and take your place” is the refrain of the song of freedom for all who are made in the image and likeness of God.
“Go and take your place” is the conviction of knowing that one’s place is in the company of the God who loves each one of us so much that God’s Son was sent NOT to castigate and doom to hell but to love into fullness of being. “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world – we and all creation – might be saved through him” who is Love.
So go and take your place, you who are burdened and broken, you who are lost and forsaken, you who are marginalized and minimized, you who are made to feel like you don’t have a place.
Go and take your place in the streets, in the churches, in the halls of justice.
Go and take your place for you are worthy, you are God’s beloved. It is for you – every woman, every man, every child – that God sent Jesus. He, the Risen One, has freed you from the prisons of other people’s making.
Go and take your place and tell everyone about this life, about this love.