Create by: Hungsu Lim December 22, 2015 at 4:41 pm
[Advent Devotion] Day 20 “The Best Parties”
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’” (Luke 14:21 NIV)
“I haven’t had a home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving for years! It would be nice to eat something that someone made from scratch.”
These were the words of Nate, one of a group of guys who happened to be homeless and were hanging out with me and some friends from seminary. We were weeks away from Thanksgiving, and my husband, Jon, and I had planned to celebrate with his parents and our daughter, Addie. This would be our first Thanksgiving together since Addie’s arrival. Though grandparents can be reasonably territorial when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving with their first grandchild, Jon and I felt the nudge to extend our table.
We decided to prepare a family style Thanksgiving Day meal for our friends who happened to be homeless; and they wanted to be part of the planning. Nate, Bill, Franky, and the others began to make plans for the food they wanted to eat and the friends they, too, wanted to invite.
“Make sure Mrs. Donna makes a pecan pie.”
“I’ll help cook the turkey if someone can get me a ride.”
“We’ve got friends all around town who want to come. Can we get a van to pick them up?”
Invitations went out to friends around town, as well as to people at the seminary who happened to be without family the week of Thanksgiving.
Then there was the matter of breaking the news to Jon’s parents. It went something like this: “Steve and Betty, this year instead of having Thanksgiving with just ‘our four and no more,’ we are extending the table and throwing a party. And actually, we need your help. Steve, do you mind riding in the van with me as I pick up people from around town? And Betty, can you watch Addie as we get things ready for our meal?”
Of course, they had questions: “Do you have to do this on Thanksgiving Day? Why not some other day of the week? Isn’t Thanksgiving Day for families?”
Our reply: “We are family.”
Jesus challenges us with his table manners; he creates with his table a new way of being community—of being family. Here in Luke, he shares a story of a banquet. Although there are designated guests, they don’t show up. The party planner asks a helper to go out and get a whole lot of people that most wouldn’t invite. Even after that invitation, there is still room. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, I quickly can become focused on my own biological family and forget that I am surrounded by folks who are looking to be part of something bigger—who are looking for family. Nate, Bill, Franky and many others are not blood relations, nor did they marry into the family, but they said yes to Jesus. They were and are part of the family of God.
I am challenged by Jesus to extend challenging invitations—and to throw the best parties! Jesus likes to party, and I want to be known as a person who knows how to throw a great party where everyone feels welcome—particularly those on the margins.
How can you extend your table to those who find themselves without family this season?
PRAYER: Generous Jesus, you extend your table to all. Grant me the grace and capacity to throw the best parities and, in doing so, to redefine what it means to be part of the family of God; in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(from “SENT: Devotion” Week 4 – Jesus Brings New Life by Rachel Billups)
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