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

Growing up, I remember mom and dad’s friends sharing meals with us. On Sunday afternoons, people visited with no kids, or kids my age, or older. We didn’t live close to the church, so our being at their house or they at ours involved a road trip. But that didn’t defray our spending time with people. There were times where either mom and dad reciprocated their invitation or they had us over. But this wasn’t why mom and dad invited folks over. There wasn’t an expectation of a meal at their home in return. Visiting and sharing life were the only expectations.

My wife and I have noticed over the years that having people over, at least to us, is a much rarer occurrence than when we were younger. We recall spending time, as a married couple, sharing homes and life just like mom and dad did. It didn’t happen too often before the COVID-19 outbreak, and my fear is it will occur even less after. If this is what happens to our society, I’ll be very sad. Sharing meals, as my former neighbor used to tell us, has a deep meaning, especially in his Middle Eastern culture. You see, according to what he told us (and I believe it), sharing a meal in someone’s home is akin to becoming family.

There are times for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), and it seems soon, when things ‘open up,’ the time may be for rejoining each other at church and, yes, in our homes. This outbreak has separated us. Perhaps, with the appropriate level of caution should you be vulnerable, inviting people into your home, whether you’re used to it or not, would be a wonderful way of reestablishing community. As these restrictions continue to loosen up, perhaps consider inviting those you normally wouldn’t. I’m sure the motivation in the past has been to just have fellowship one with another, so let’s continue that now. However, if you find perhaps you hoped for people to invite you over, step outside this thinking, and invite people without any expectations and discover that there’s more joy in the experience! It might even be fun to start now and come up with a unique way to get together using recommended methods to keep safe!

By Rich Obrecht