Several years ago, my wife and I were invited to attend a 50th birthday party in Germany thrown by our friend Barbara. We’ve known Barbara and her husband Peter for over 30 years, and from past experience, we knew they threw a good party!
We didn’t know what to expect – other than the dress code was smart casual. Having stayed with them a couple of days before the party, we realised it wasn’t going to be at their house and we thought it might be at a hotel in the pretty Bavarian town they live in. But no. In fact, on the night we met up with a large group of their friends. We then climbed aboard a coach and were taken off to a castle.
Without exaggeration, it was probably the best birthday
party we’ve ever been too. Delicious food and drink and wonderful company.
I remember thinking that it must have cost a fortune. And the next day I thanked Barbara for her generosity. “Well. That’s what tax refunds from the German government are for” she said. I suspect Barbara hadn’t over paid that much tax! But it was something she and Peter wanted to do for their friends. And that was the lovely thing. It wasn’t about “Look at me I’ve got all this money.” Rather it was “I want to do something extravagant to show my friends how much I care for them.”
And incidentally, the party raised a lot of money for a German housing charity, as Barbara insisted no one give her presents but we could make a donation to the charity if we wished.
A phrase I’ve seen quoted in a few places recently is “If you are more fortunate than others, it’s better to build a longer table than a taller fence.” No one seems to know who said it. But it could easily have been said by Jesus - though it wasn’t! It would be a very Christ like thing to do
As a circuit we’ve just started our Holy Habits series. And the first module we’re considering is entitled “Eating Together”. And the material reminds us of the importance of hospitality – especially to those less fortunate. In Luke 14 we have an account of Jesus being invited to a dinner at the home of a Pharisee, a very devote Jew. The other guests were all keen to be seated at the head of the table to show how important they were.
12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14: 12 – 14 NIV