Friday, November 28, 2008

A Thanksgiving Worth Remembering

"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
-Luke 14:12-14

Yet another passage from the bible that speaks for itself and yet is rarely followed. In our American society it actually seems foreign for a Christian to do something like this. And yet straight from the words of Jesus, it's right there in black and white (or in some cases, red).

This year my friend Steph decided to actually invite a few homeless people to her Thanksgiving dinner. Steph's motivation probably had less to do with following the passage in Luke, and more to do with the simple fact that she has formed some close friendships within Raleigh's homeless circle. It just made sense to invite a few of them over. Sure enough, everyone had a great time and one of the guys even commented that it was the best Thanksgiving he ever had. None of this was a shock, but it was the reaction from Steph's parents that surprised me.

Not at all knowing that homeless people were invited to dinner, or that their daughter even had homeless friends, we were a little concerned how Steph's parents were going to react to the arrival of Ricky and Michael at the house. But for whatever reason they just immediately connected with these two, her mother with Michael and her stepfather with Ricky. If you knew these four people, you would have hardly expected this. But there was no interrupting them as they talked back and forth throughout the afternoon. After Ricky and Michael went back to the shelter, Steph's parents commented that talking to them was such a treat and the highlight of their Thanksgiving.

The lesson for me was that relationships with the less fortunate are anything but one sided. Steph's parents came to Raleigh looking for a memorable holiday celebration with their two children. What they went home with was an unforgettable experience sharing stories with two men they had never met before. No need to wait around for the resurrection of the righteous, their repayment was immediate. I might go as far as to say that this strange social experiment was more impacting on Steph's parents than it was on Ricky and Michael, but isn't it always that way when we serve the poor.

I talked to Ricky today and he told me that Steph's mom had been sending Michael emails. I think I may have witnessed the beginning of a long friendship, not to mention a Thanksgiving worth remembering.


Hugh said...

On a post not long ago, you made a comment about my vision for The Gathering.

This is my vision.

Chris said...


Chad K Miller said...

Truly beautiful, so true, we think we are beginning something to help the less fortunate, we quickly realize we are the the less fortunate who are receiving the blessing. Incredibly great story, may many more be written as this Chris.lant

Chad K Miller said...

Oops, my password from word verification slipped in the last post. lant - is not greek/latin for a cool word or anything. If it was it would mean "kick a-- revolutionary."