When you give a banquet

Today I had a glimpse of heaven. This is actually the second glimpse I’ve had in two weeks, so God must be trying to teach me something. Today’s had to do with our Thanksgiving meal.

Living overseas for 20 years, we always loved sharing Thanksgiving with others. Without family nearby, you seek out other Americans or other friends who might want to enjoy a typical American meal and holiday. Our boys no nothing except a full house, lots of food and friends for Thanksgiving.

Returning to the United States affected our holidays. For the first time, we enjoyed actual blood relatives for Thanksgiving. That continued for the first few years we were back, but then we began the Arabic Baptist Church.

Knowing what it’s like not to have family near for holidays, we started inviting our church members to our house and then to the church to share a meal. They were always wonderful times of good food and conversation. (No one talked American football in our gatherings).

Then life changed two years ago when the love of my life left us the day before Thanksgiving 2015. I didn’t know if I’d ever be the same. I barely remember the first year, and now as I faced the second, I went to church with mixed feelings. I was already trying to adjust to my firstborn being gone for the first Thanksgiving in his life, as he traveled with his new wife to be with her family. That’s just another part of life.

As my younger son, Nathan, helped me get things set up at church for our midday meal, I wondered who would show up. The pastor and his wife and children were the first, and I was reminded how grateful I am for this man God placed in our midst at just the right time. Then the others began coming, and by the time we prepared to share our meal, I looked around the room and said to myself, “This is what it’s all about.”

We stood in a circle to talk about one thing for which we’re thankful. English and Arabic flowed simultaneously as each person shared. One from Iraq said he was thankful for the security we have in this country and for the food. He knew, for he had lived through horrible times in his own land where neither were guaranteed. Another thanked God for America, where all nationalities are welcomed. Thanks was given for just being alive that day, as this one came from a hard life, had been in prison, and now was given a 2nd chance. One thanked the Lord for good health, as he had survived a heart transplant and many health issues in the past years. Then my son thanked the Lord for things we do not see; for those times when everything looks bleak and bad, but God uses it for good.

One by one they shared, Christian, Muslim, English, Arabic, rich, poor, old, young, literate and illiterate. United in love and a thankful heart.

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 neighbors; if you do, they may 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.”

I was blessed today. My cup overflows. What about yours?

Grace and Peace


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