The handwritten note says, “You are welcome at Emily’s party.”
The details were also included—3 p.m., in her room. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the little joys and moments of inspiration that come, but today I am trying to. Today, I am working part of the day, while also parenting. I know I won’t get nearly enough done for work, but the school closed for a snow day, and there are some things I need to get done.
On days like this, I can sometimes be pretty hard on myself. On days like this, I can sometimes feel like I am being both a bad employee and a bad parent. Today, I am trying to give us all some grace. The kids are getting more screen time than usual and I am putting off some of the work activities that can wait until a free evening or two. I am even planning on attending a party.
I am not sure of Emily’s plans for the party, but I think I will read her the story of another party while we are together. She loves reading together and it seems so fitting to read the Parable of The Great Banquet from Luke 14 to her because of her wonderful invitation.
This parable is one that really leaves me to struggle. It is such a rich Parable that I feel like I could study it every day for a year and still have questions. Every time I read it, I wonder and I ponder. I seem to think about different parts of it each time I read it.
Today, as I read it, I am saddened that someone hosts a party and no one attends. For someone with kids, this seems like such a horrible possibility. What if your child hosts a birthday party and no one attends? What if I didn’t accept Emily’s invitation today? Yet, this is what happens to the man hosting this party. He prepares a great feast, a banquet, yet everyone has an excuse to not attend.
For the Jewish audience that first heard Jesus tell this story, it would be absolutely bizarre to have a rich host prepare a feast, and no one shows up. Yet, how often do we turn down God’s offer of love, acceptance, and grace? How often are we offered amazing opportunities to see and experience Christ, yet we ignore the invitation?
I am a fiercely independent person and I often turn down offers of help. How often do I turn down God’s offer of help? How often do I turn down opportunities to be with God? How often could a community accomplish more if I only accepted the help of others?
The other part of this story that always challenges me is when the host sends the servant to gather the marginalized and bring them to the party. I want to believe that this is the party I want to be at, but I also, wonder, how would I feel? I like to believe I am accepting of everyone, but I know this party might make me uncomfortable. I also wonder when this new invitation is given, if I am still welcome? Do I still have a place at the party?
Today, I am welcome at Emily’s party. My young daughter, that teaches me so much, will teach me about being loved, accepted, and wanted. We will feast, dance, sing, and read a story. Today, Emily will remind me that I have another invitation, another invitation to a great party, and I plan to accept!
Read Luke 14:15-24 and consider the following questions:
What will you do with your invitation to The Great Feast?
What excuses do you make that prevent you from spending time with Jesus?
Do the marginalized find a place in our communities as we ‘feast’ or do we need to find better way to include them and be in community with them?
Are there other questions that come to your mind as you read this Parable?