1 Corinthians 11:17-26 (NIV)
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do
you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Moving away from family and friends meant leaving some traditions behind. Spending Christmas with my husband’s extended family was a big one. We had moved to a small western Nebraska town and knew no one. My parents were somewhat closer so we established a new Christmas tradition of being together…usually at our home because of the children’s Christmas Eve program at church. That helped to take the sting out of being alone with our little family of four.
Plans were made, the anticipation was growing for the grandparent’s visit. A week before Christmas my parents phoned and apologized that they would not be coming. They felt compelled to accept a first time invitation to visit my brother’s wife’s family in Colorado. We were crestfallen. We would be alone.
The following day, I began to think of others that might be without their loved ones. I knew our pastor and his family could not be in Minnesota with their families so we invited them. They were delighted to accept our invitation. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas meal together, shared laughter, and played games. Thus, started a new tradition in our family.
Each year we searched for people who had no place to go. We invited them to our home for Christmas Day dinner. One year it included our two new doctors from Poland and their families. Other years, a recently bereaved young man who had lost his fiancee’ in a car accident and his parents, an elderly couple, police officers off duty for lunch, neighbors who were alone. Our children were excited about this new tradition and would ask every year, “Who’s coming for Christmas this year?”
Since then, I see them carrying on the same tradition inviting those who would otherwise have no one to share the joy of a Christmas meal. Jesus did not discriminate when He invited everyone to the Lord’s Supper. The meal was not “family only” but open to all. Whatever our family traditions are, let us always live Jesus’ example, “All are welcome at our table.”
Good and gracious God,
Thank you for accepting all of us at your meal. May we be generous in our hearts to have an open table policy in our homes. Amen
Written by Janece Nelson
Janece and husband, Mike, have been members of Sheridan for eleven years. Janece is a retired mathematics instructor teaching at the middle school and college level. They are blessed with two children and three grandchildren (ages 7-13). Janece finds her greatest joy in spending time with her family and friends. Her passion is writing devotions for patients in hospitals and rehabs she sees every Monday as a Sheridan hospital visitor. As a Teammate