Have you ever felt like the man in the story Jesus told who threw a dinner party for his friends but no one showed up? Instead, each friend had an excuse why they could not come or did not want to come. The excuses seemed important to that person, two had bought something that needed their attention and the other just got married. Yet, even though the excuses seemed valid, the man throwing the dinner party was really hurt, angry in fact. Rather than allow the food to go to waste he sent out invites to anyone in the streets to come and enjoy the feast. He made sure his house so full that there was no room for his friends that he originally invited, even if they changed their mind.
Rejection hurts. When you put your heart into something and no one shows up, it sucks. I’ve see this happen with volunteers of many churches. Volunteers take weeks out of their personal time to put together an event in the hopes of strengthening the church community and bringing strangers into their building where they can share in the fellowship. The event is talked up in the Sunday morning announcements and on social media to create excitement and enthusiasm. Yet, on the day of the event, the church members don’t show up. It’s devastating to the volunteers when this happens. Even though the church members had valid excuses for not being there, the pain of rejection by the volunteers was felt all the same.
An Effort of Time
It’s important to make time to attend events if you are able. Your presence may not seem that big of a deal to you, but it means a lot to the volunteers who put together the event. I know I’ve not been a saint when it comes to event invites that I’m not directly involved with the planning. It’s hard to consider the feeling of others’ sometimes when you’re consumed with your own life.
Being present is a form of support. It shows you care in your church. It shows you want the church to meet its goal – to bring in the strangers so they can share in the fellowship of the church community. If the community is not there, then the strangers are treated to a meal and a good time but do not get that fellowship of the church body. This leaves the volunteers to wonder why they spent so much time and effort into the event when the church couldn’t even be bothered to show up. Instead of feeling happy at the good they brought to the strangers, they are left feeling rejected just like the man in the parable.
“A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant[a] to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[b] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”