Last week I had an unexpected chance to ride along with my dad on a business trip, leaving a few children with my mom and taking a few along to Ohio. I walked into the comfort of my sister’s house and realized that this is one of those houses that has welcoming arms. The coffee was fresh, the room was warm, and the toys were all new for my little girls. I pulled my feet up onto the softness of the couch and just soaked it in. It was lovely.
We looked at pictures, catching up with each other’s friends. We watched our little girls interact and helped them work out their occasional turf wars over books and dolls. We gave each other advice, and no, you probably don’t want to know what advice. We went on a walk and we made donuts and drank more coffee. A day and a night, basically, but such a reprieve from ordinary days in my little grey house.
I thought again about the marvel of connections, of being unconditionally loved without pretense, of having people. I feel so sad when Gabe talks about meeting people who are deathly sick, and they don’t have anyone. Nobody to hold your hand. Nobody to watch your back. Nobody to keep reminding God about you when you are needy. Nobody, even when things are going well, who lets you raid their fridge when you are hungry.
I simply cannot imagine. Yes, one has a certain claim on blood relatives, but I have so many others who are “my people”. While I might not put my feet on their furniture, I know that I am warmly welcomed into their lives. It is one of the most beautiful aspects of belonging to Jesus, belonging also to this vast family.
I think maybe this is why Jesus spoke the parables about inviting wayfarers to one’s banquet, extending gracious invitations to those who don’t belong. Imagine what would happen if all of His children would extend the arms of their homes to those who don’t have people of their own, offering the comfort of a hot, cheesy lasagna… and love. How could that be resisted?