Gathering at the Table for Thanksgiving
"He said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just'" (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).
For most of us, when we think of Thanksgiving, we think of gathering with family for a mean and being thankful. But do we ever think of letting our tradition become a blessing for someone in need? I want to tell you the story of how I got an older brother.
It was the week of Thanksgiving in 2012 and our house is always busy at that time. From cleaning the house to cooking to just getting ready for the family to come over. But this year was different.
One of the guys from our youth group had just been kicked out of his sister's house and went to sleep on the porch of his girlfriend's house until they found a homeless shelter for him to stay. This young man graduated high school at 16 and was now all on his own. One of our church members helped him get a seasonal job, but he only had a scooter to get from place to place and the job was a good distance from the homeless shelter.
My family has always invited people who did not have a place to go for Thanksgiving lunch at our house. Several of dad's work friends who lived out of the country often joined us, but this year we also invited Curtis, the young man from church.
One night my dad drove Curtis back to the homeless shelter he had been staying at. The residents of the shelter were all divorced men who were over 40 years old with no place to stay. It really bothered my dad that such a young man had to stay there because his family did not want him. So my dad talked it over with us. We had already invited him to Thanksgiving but we knew we needed to do more. So in the middle of the Thanksgiving cleaning we also cleaned out a room by moving both of my brothers into one room. We moved in a bed and asked Curtis if he would stay with us.
The night before Thanksgiving he moved in and even helped us to clean the house. My brothers and I learned a lot about being thankful that year after seeing all that had transpired with Curtis. We had a family that loved and took care of us. We had a home that kept us safe. We had food that was not just Hot Pockets. We were very blessed and had a lot to be thankful for, no matter what our circumstances were.
In this verse in Luke 14, I am reminded of our tradition and how it brought us a new family member. When we open our table to the poor and needy we do not need an earthly reward. When we live for Christ, our goal should always be on heavenly blessings rather than earthly ones. If we can open our table and bring more people to Christ, then that is exactly what we need to do.
As Christians, we are called to be a light in this dark world -- to bring hope and peace. We see in 1 Corinthians 10:31 to do all things for the glory of God even while eating or drinking. So why should that not include our table? It is not always convenient or easy to open our homes and our table and let others in, but when we allow Christ in on all our plans, He can do something amazing with it -- even bring in a new family member.
So my hope and prayer is that we can all see and think of ways to be a light in someone's dark world today and that we would listen to what God may be asking of us even in this busy holiday season. In this scary and uncertain time, people need hope and joy now more than ever! Let us be that hope and joy for someone this Thanksgiving season. So, how will you use your table to bless the poor and hurt this holiday season?