Luke 14:21-23 – The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame." "Sir," the servant said, "what you ordered has been done, but there is still room." Then the master told his servant, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." (NIV)
How does one go out to reach people in a modern city? The streets are so often unwelcoming. How? In the local mall, of course! We tried it one Christmas, and it was a wonderful experience. Our church organized a gigantic cookie drop with many groups donating thousands of cookies. The Bible Society donated scripture leaflets of the Christmas story. Cookie crews placed two cookies and the leaflets in a baggie with information about our church's Christmas Eve service on the back. Then each Saturday in Advent a different choir came to the mall to sing the familiar carols now so often banned from the radio. As they sang, we gave out the cookie bags to the passers-by. It was all well received!
Yes, we spent four Saturdays in Advent in the mall trying to bring in the spiritually blind, crippled and lame. There were many poor going in and out of the liquor store who took our baggies! It was a chance to spread the wonderful news of Jesus' birth. At first it felt strange, but some of our group had a God-given knack for saying just the right thing. Who knows the impact on lonely people that Christmas Eve? Who came to the banquet?
We didn't have to find extra seating on that particular Christmas Eve, though, as a snowstorm almost kept us all home! But where the Word of God is honoured and read, Jesus' Spirit goes into action, usually in unexpected ways. It felt really good to take Christmas to the mall: as if Jesus was saying, "Yes!"
It's not easy to bring people to God's banquet these days — or is it just our shyness? When we do try, Jesus is there, welcoming everyone through us. Let's make this day a welcoming one as we share the good news of Jesus' birth with others, even in unlikely places.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, show us how to invite your guests to the banquet hall today. Help us look in unexpected places and give us the joyous words to say. When you bring it all together, something beautiful happens. May it happen today. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.