As we said good-bye to 2017, I reflected on all the special places I have been set a place at the table and all the invitations I have extended to a place at the table. This has been a great year of table settings in so many environments. Some of the tables this past year were set in casual moments with paper plates, my favorites were often the more formal settings. Formal settings usually represent a special occasion, a celebration, an opportunity to linger and enjoy.
Along with the happy, the not-so-happy have been present. In the final months of 2017, we attended three funerals and two weddings. It was a great time of celebrating family gatherings, showers, bridal luncheons, rehearsal dinners, wedding feasts, and new life beginnings. It was also a difficult time saying good-bye and having no real words of comfort for those who would have one less setting at the table.
Showing hospitality around my table has not been easy for me. I am much more hospitable in other areas of giving; however, this past year I have extended invitations with a heart full of hope, as I invited people to our home to sit and dine and fellowship with us. "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" Acts 2:42 (English Standard Version). This verse hangs on our wall near our dining room table as a visual reminder of the habit of joining together to feed our bodies and our souls. It serves as an encouragement to me, an invitation to practice hospitality around the table.
This Christmas I had set a table in our home before we traveled. With great anticipation, some apprehension, and a lot of hope that when we returned after all the celebrations in South Texas, we would sit and enjoy our two youngest children, both young adults -- a reunion for them and us. We do not often all get together, however, I had imagined in my mind a time of peaceful togetherness, some laughter, and some warmth on a cold winter day.The above picture was originally a table set for four. As the plans erroded, my heart was hurt and tears were bountiful. I was upset for letting myself "hope". Processing anger and pain are an all-too-familiar occurrance during this time of year. With lots of prayer and thoughtful consideration, I realized that God already knew who would sit at that table when I set it many weeks prior, I added another place setting. I would not let the disappointment win. We invited some very dear friends to join us, we did indeed have peaceful togetherness, lots of laughter, and warmth on a cold winter day. I will continue to invite others to the table. Their rejection or acceptance will not keep me from offering hospitality with a hopeful heart.