By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Luke 14:13-14a
Terry was an outcast. Local churches sent him away because he didn’t dress “right.” He was a nuisance to his neighbors because he played his radio too loud when he drank, which was most of the time. Shortly after I met Terry, he was arrested for public intoxication– walking under the influence. Nobody in the world had much room for Terry.
I met him at his house after a church member asked me to visit him. He lived in a broken-down trailer with no running water, no heat, and no air conditioning. The floor was rotten. I could see the ground through the decaying boards. The place was dirty. It’s hard to clean without water, and he didn’t have a lot of motivation to do any better. He’d just about given up on life.
I told my small group about Terry, and they had compassion for him. They asked to take him out to eat, to get to know him-as a friend. I spoke with Terry about the dinner plans. He was concerned about his appearance. So, we arranged for a hot shower, new clothes, and a haircut (at his request). Then, we took him out to eat in a nice restaurant where he could pick anything on the menu. The group invited him to dinner and loved him, such a simple plan, holy even.
Melissa and I drove Terry home after dinner. During the fifteen-minute drive to his house, he repeated again and again, “This has been the best night of my life.” Terry was 65 years-old, and the best night of his life was when a few strangers did what Jesus said. We invited the outcast to a banquet. We were all forever changed!
Every time we celebrate Holy Communion, Christ invites us outcasts to the table. We are no more deserving than Terry, yet Jesus makes room for us. He calls us to make room for others. May we learn to embrace all those Christ loves and find friendship with them at the table!