“When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).
What would you do if you had planned an expensive and stylish wedding reception for your daughter, only to find out that the wedding was cancelled only six weeks out? Many of us would get on the phone and try to argue, cajole, and negotiate our way out of the reception costs. Perhaps, if we couldn’t change the fees, we would invite our friends and neighbors to have a party anyway…and why not? We’ve already paid for it!
But Carol and Willie Fowler chose a different option. They lived out Christ’s words (Luke 14:12-14) by deciding not to invite friends and relatives or rich neighbors. Rather, they called an organization that helps feed the homeless, and they told them their plan: replace the 200 person guest list with 200 homeless people (primarily women and children).
Buses transported residents from three area shelters to the restaurant where they had punch and lemonade, hors d’oeuvres of beef tenderloin kabob, coconut shrimp, and a main meal of salmon and chicken. Children were greeted by a clown, a juggler and a face painter. Kids ate mac ‘n cheese, chicken fingers, french fries, and fresh fruit.
In this real life “making lemonade of lemons” story, this couple fulfilled the most basic principle of Christianity: do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31). In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal with friends, what a blessing it is to invite those who could never reciprocate.