But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.”
There’s something powerful about an invitation. I remember being young and receiving invitations to birthday parties for my friends. I’d open the invitation, and my heart would leap at the thought that I was worthy of an invitation. Even if I couldn’t go, it would still make me feel valued, seen, and wanted. The same is true for first dates, an invitation to a concert or sporting event, or a simple request to join somebody for dinner. It reinforces the depth and intimacy of the relationship.
There can be a lot of reasons why we don’t invite people to various occasions. Capacity and resources can severely limit what we are actually able to do, but there are many times that we don’t invite because we assume we already know the answer. I can think back on the times I wasn’t invited to something because it was assumed I wouldn’t be into it. Even the times that I wouldn’t have wanted to go, it still stung a bit that I wasn’t invited.
There are numerous scriptures in the Bible that speak to the power of an invitation and challenge us to be the ones to invite people to experience the love, joy, and peace of God we’ve been blessed with. In today’s passage, some of those invited couldn’t attend for various reasons but the father in the story is adamant—his helper shouldn’t rest until every seat at the table was filled.
We have a really great opportunity to invite family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances to join us for Christmas Eve at Sun Valley. Think about it—you’re simply asking them to join you for an hour, and maybe a meal afterwards. For all the reasons we can find not to invite—whether because of differences in beliefs, knowing they might already have plans, or simply because we’re nervous—that invitation can literally change the trajectory of the life of the one who was invited. It’s always right to invite.
Thought of the day: Who do you know that might benefit from a simple invitation, even if you know they’ll give a “no?”
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for always having room at your table and for giving us the unique opportunity to help invite people to meet, know, and follow You. Give me boldness to have the conversations that could lead to a changed life. Amen.