As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Matthew 9: 9-11 NIV
An unlikely table, sharing food and stories from the past week. A table with an invitation, there’s a spare seat, ready to be pulled out for whoever might want to join. It’s a table that stirs emotions and questions in onlookers. This isn’t a formal, well-planned, slightly stressed dinner party. No, this is a messy, unlikely, relaxed family gathering. Everybody is valued, has a part to play, and has something to say in this gathering. The outcasts, the rich, the broken, the ones with authority, all equal at the table, sharing the same food, listening to the same stories. It’s radically different, counter-cultural, and yet simple. And you know what the most exciting thing about that is?
You, like Matthew, have a table that Jesus has invited himself to.
You get to extend an invitation to your table, your home, into your life and your heart on earth as we wait to join the feast at the eternal table. Christmas is a fantastic time to invite others to sit around the table with you, to host spaces where your Christian friends can meet your friends that don’t yet know Jesus. The invite is easy in this season, as it’s the season for carols, parties, food and celebration. And as someone who is carrying the living presence of God, as you invite people to come, eat and drink at your table, God is there with you. You are the perfect person to share your faith with your friends because you know them. You know what makes them tick, you can see what God loves about them and you know the areas in their lives which need to be touched by God’s love.
So, this season invite your friends into your home, into your community, to your table, so that you can share with them God’s heart and love for them. Keep it simple, no need to host a 5-course extravaganza, just open up your home, your halls of residence, with all of its mess and invite people in. You may not even have a physical table, that’s alright, sit on the floor, this is a relaxed, family gathering. Just make sure people know they are invited. The first guest to arrive, who has been there all along, is God. So recognize His presence with you, pray for your friends coming, ask God for good questions, opportunities to share and be open to being surprised by what He may do at your table.
How do you feel about opening up your home this advent?
What mix of people could you invite around your table this advent season?
How can you let your friends know that they’re invited into a relationship with Jesus as well as inviting them to come to a Sunday service?