I have to start by saying that I love my grandma dearly and every trip home is not complete without seeing her. But over the course of the last few family gatherings I've noticed something a bit strange going on with my grandma: she feels that she is getting in the way of my family's time together. This causes only one response from me: WHAT?! Why would my grandma, who is part of the family, feel like she is getting in the way of the family's time together? A bit strange, don't you think?
Now I'm sure there are all kinds of psychological explanations for this and my family is certainly not free from from any sort of dysfunction (is any family?), but this situation has made me more observant of how overly courteous we have become as a society. We don't want to interrupt anyone or anything, but if we do, we want to draw as little attention to ourselves as possible. We simply want to get out of the way of other people.
This is quite a contrast to the way Jesus lived roughly 2000 years ago. Sure, he was born in the quaint, little town of Bethlehem to a very ordinary young woman, and we don't know much about his childhood other than that he liked to hide from his parents in the temple (definitely an ulcer-causing experience for Mary!). But when Jesus began ministering to those around him, he certainly didn't stay out of the way of other people. In fact, we was probably a bit pushy by our standards. Think about it: he invited himself to Zacchaeus' house for dinner (ever done that to anyone else?); he placed himself directly in harm's way when he confronted the religious rulers of his day; and one of his best-known parables is about traveling on the same side of the road as those who have been stripped, beaten, robbed, and left for dead (the Good Samaritan). Apparently, Jesus was pretty intentional about getting in the way of others, perhaps because he had something to offer those he encountered.
The beautiful thing about following this "in-the-way" Jesus is that he invites us, a bunch of ordinary people, to continue his ministry of getting in the way of others not because we have something so special of our own to offer people but because we have the life of Jesus to offer other people. His life--one of healing, encouragement, justice, compassion, love, joy, and peace (to name a few)--is the very life we have to offer others.
From the perspective of Jesus, getting in the way of others is not an impolite act, it is the most life-giving gesture we can offer them. May we become the kind of people who intentionally get in the way of others so that they may brush up against the risen Christ who works in and through us.