By Erika Rizkallah
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons, but mostly because it reminds me of my dad. He was an amazing cook and at each celebration he tried to outdo his efforts from the previous year.
In addition to the traditional turkey with stuffing, his artfully set table was laden with food for a variety of tastes. However, the best part of the day was receiving company. Our dinner wasn’t limited to family only. My dad made it a point to invite a hodgepodge of interesting people who had no place else to go.
After dessert, my brother and I were sent to the kitchen for dish duty (washing by hand), but mostly I did it myself. I loved to eavesdrop on the grown-up conversations and learn a bit about the lives of our guests.
I can’t count how many stories I heard about estranged and hurting families.
Dad died 26 years ago, shortly before his favorite holiday. It felt weird to sit at the table without him, and yet we were comforted by carrying on the tradition of an open home for others.
The holidays are joyful times for many, but can be miserable for the lonely and those separated from family.
Jesus was mindful of this. Banqueting was a popular ritual for wealthy ancient Romans. It was an honor to be invited and the host would produce a lavish display for his guests, who lounged on couches. The next banquet host would reciprocate and try to outdo him at the same time – a kind of competitive dining experience.
One time Jesus went to such a dinner and told his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do they might invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12
Most of us will gather with family and friends this year – myself included – giving thanks to God for all his blessings. But wouldn’t it be awesome to try to include some of those people he mentioned at our feasts? What an awesome way to show God’s love to those who need it most.
Your Turn: Are you planning to invite someone special to share your holiday meal?