who to invite?

>> November 21, 2008

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a "family holiday".

But in our previous church district, my husband and I decided to expand our horizons a little bit. Our table guests were sparse last year, just the two of us and my parents – and we come from the philosophy that at times like these, the more the merrier!

So we started talking around to our friends in the congregation to see who wanted to share the holiday dinner together. Several showed interest, but in the end all declined.

We were disappointed. All our friends seemed to have better things to do than spend time with us! ☹

So one night, the week before the holiday, I decided to pray about it. I really felt strongly that we needed to invite someone over and I just couldn’t figure out whom. So I asked God “What’s your plan? Is there someone I’m supposed to ask specifically?”

And then I thought of Mr Hughes. A tall and distinguished elderly gentleman who’d sat in the same spot on the same front pew every service for the past 20+ years. He played the violin sometimes for special music, and attended church alone because his bedridden wife couldn’t come along.

Occasionally he would stay for fellowship dinner, and when he did, he would always go back through the line a second time to pack a little Styrofoam plate to take home and share the church dinner with her.

Mr Hughes always had a quick smile and a hug for anyone who would spare him a moment’s notice. He was a true Southern gentleman of the old sort. They had no children in the area, or family to share the holiday. I was almost certain they’d be eating a microwave dinner at home alone.

So I invited Mr Hughes to join us.

He arrived right on time, and started off by saying that he couldn’t stay more than an hour or two, because his wife was having a bad day.

But during that hour he oohed and aahed over the dinner, regaled us with stories of frontline reconnaissance in the Pacific theatre during World War II, sang songs and cracked jokes and had a wonderful time.

When he left, we packed him a huge plate of holiday food to take home for his wife. As he stood at the door, he had tears in his eyes and told me that this was the first time he’d been out of the house for anything but church or the doctor in years.

I knew we’d done the right thing. Then we moved to a new district last spring, and a few months ago we heard that Mr Hughes had suddenly passed away from an unexpected illness.

At the time, it felt great to know that our invitation gave a wonderful old man a sense of family and acceptedness during an otherwise lonely holiday. It felt good to bless him that way.

As I’m writing this, I just realized that it was also his final Thanksgiving on this earth. I’m glad he shared it with us - I think we were the ones who were blessed.

Who does God want you to invite to join your family table this year?


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