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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A House Full Of Angels

Parable of the Banquet
“When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed."
 - Luke 14:13
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it.”                  
- Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)

In Reta Halteman Finger's book, “Of Widows and Meals,” she writes about the Witmer Heights Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which has a designated member of the congregation invite visitors and other guests to a meal in their home each Sunday. When it is member Miriam Eberly's turn, she always sets a table for twelve and tries her best to fill it.

One Sunday Eberly’s guests included the following: the visiting pastor and her husband, a Seventh Day Adventist neighbor, a couple and their daughter who recently went through a house fire, a member of a home for mentally challenged adults, two government employees from Washington, and the son of a local Presbyterian minister. Since there was still room for one more, Miriam invited a young, disabled African-American from her church as well.

When they sat down to eat, she had a moment of anxiety about how a group this diverse would find things to talk about, so after the blessing and before the food was passed she had each person tell their name and say something interesting about themselves. From then on, everything went just fine. The conversing around the table completely took care of itself.

Halteman Finger's point in her book is that there is a kind of sacred, barrier-breaking quality in sharing our food around a common table, one that is too easily lost in a day of fast-food-to-go at the nearby McBurgers. 
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