Issue a genuine invitation. Let your guests know you want them to come. Call them on the phone, or step over to their desks at work. Are they neighbors? Knock on their doors and say, “We’d love for you to join us at our dinner table tonight. Please come.” People weather so many daily rejections. The doctor can’t see them. The kids didn’t call. The airplane is booked. But then you invite them over. We have room for you! Life altering.
Make a big deal of their arrival. Gather the entire family at the front door. Swing it open as you see them approach. If you have a driveway, meet them on it. If your apartment has a lobby, be waiting for them. This is a parade-worthy moment. One of God’s children is coming to your house!
Address the needs of your guests. First-century hospitality included foot washing. Modern-day hospitality includes the sharing of food and drink. Time to talk and listen. No televisions blaring in the background. No invasive music. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to speak. Go around the table and share favorite moments of the day or memories of the week. Like the Good Shepherd, we prepare a table and restore the soul.
Send them out with a blessing. Make it clear you are glad your guests came. Offer a prayer for their safety and a word of encouragement for their travel.
The event need not be elaborate to be significant. Don’t listen to the Martha Stewart voice, the voice that says everything must be perfect. The house must be perfect. The china must be perfect. Meal. Kids. Husband. Everything must be perfect. Scented guest towels, warm appetizers, after-dinner mints.
If we wait until everything is perfect, we’ll never issue an invitation. Remember this: what is common to you is a banquet to someone else. You think your house is small, but to the lonely heart, it is a castle. You think the living room is a mess, but to the person whose life is a mess, your house is a sanctuary. You think the meal is simple, but to those who eat alone every night, pork and beans on paper plates tastes like filet mignon. What is small to you is huge to them.
Open your table.
Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).
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