Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. – Luke 14:16-18
Baptized in Gratitude: Starting in Pensacola, and going forward pretty-much interrupted for three decades, Rebekah and I have routinely hosted Thanksgiving dinner at Maul-Hall. The smallest involved around eight guests – the year Rebekah’s back put her our of commission – and the record stands somewhere north of 30. We’ve shared our Thanksgiving table with family, extended family, friends, church members, military personnel with nowhere to go, and people neither one of us knew were coming but were welcomed anyway.
This year our daughter Naomi and her husband Craig picked up the tradition, and the Campbell Richmond residence was overrun with life, with love, and with plenty.
Their house may have been officially blessed when they moved in a year ago, but now the home has been baptized in gratitude. We sang “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” before the meal, and the beautiful truth of that declaration of faith and promise was evident for the remainder of the celebration.
PHOTO-SHOOT! Taking the “official” photograph that mark’s the occasion is usually a story of its own. This time the children cooperated, and Naomi was able to pull it off with only three clicks of the shutter.
But my favorite shots are the two I took of our daughter setting up. She gave instructions, set the timer, hit the button, and then ran as fast as she could for her spot in the lineup.
To me, this captures the spirit of the day. Our daughter projected such delight, such pleasure, such thankfulness for the blessing of hosting, that it spilled over into everything.
INVITATIONAL GOSPEL: It reminds me of the image of God’s generous, joyous, invitation to the feast, as told by Jesus in the gospel of Luke. We are invited simply to show up, to receive the generosity that the host is so glad to shower on the guests. “Just come! Let me love you and feed you and fill you with Living Water and the Bread of Life! Take your place at the table!”
Just come! Let me love you, and feed you, and fill you with Living Water and the Bread of Life! Take your place at the table!
What better time to come than right now, at the beginning of Advent… the season of preparation… looking forward to the coming of the King… the countdown of hope, peace, love, and the joy of Christmas?
I’ll see you at the table – DEREK!
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.