It was the Gathering Place for every moment that meant something-Grandma’s house. Dad, Mom, my sisters and I would pull up to the old house with the free-roaming ducks, high-strung dog (that only seemed to love Grandma), and the bunny barn. We chased the ducks, avoided the dog, and ran to the barn to snuggle the baby bunnies. And after the animals had been properly greeted, we ran to the house. The door opened directly into the kitchen where culinary aromas would tease the senses upon arrival. Grandma’s modest kitchen was nothing short of a miracle-making place. It may be argued, however, that the more significant miracle was in the sheer number of people that managed to gather in that house. Or more specifically, the kitchen. But somehow there was always just room enough.
My father’s family is not small. He has one brother and three sisters. And their spouses. And their kids. The house would run amok with cousins while Grandma fussed in the kitchen and Grandpa entertained with his Iowa farm-boy banter. It was a lovely place to be. It was the only place I wanted to be.
But there was more. Because among all the blood relations, there was yet another crowd gathered in that kitchen.
In addition to maintaining a bustling extended family, she also worked in a recovery program. Grandma spent every day working with desperate people aspiring to overcome addictions. And when the holidays came around, some of them could not go home. Some of them did not have anyone who wanted them home. And some did not have a home to call their own.
But Grandma saw fit to make sure there was room at our family table. The old house did not feel so big during the holidays. We often devoured holiday turkey, potatoes, and pies with elbows pressing together, yet hearts overflowing. There was sweet contentment in knowing that someone had saved a place for me. And not just any place. An incredible place at Grandma’s table, where a feast lay spread in anticipation for all who would come. And everyone at the table was invited and important. Nothing was required, but to come. (Unless you were one of my hunting uncles where fresh deer jerky was absolutely a requirement for the feast.)
There are so many people who do not have such a place. Or maybe you are the one without a place. Here is the good news: There is already a place prepared and the invitation has already been extended. And there is always room at the table. God looks on you with delight and invites you to sit at His table, breathe in His presence, and taste of His glory. The one who knows your name has also prepared a feast of extraordinary things for you.
You are invited to come and gather at the table of God’s unimaginable grace, where there awaits a seat with your very own name. Come freely. Come expectantly. Come quickly.
As we enter into the season of thanks and giving, who can you invite to the table? To God’s table? To your table?
“… ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.’ Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37b-38