Do you like parties? Most parties are instigated to celebrate something: to acknowledge a significant or happy day or event with a social gathering or enjoyable activity. Most of us enjoy the invitation to a party (at least we feel wanted!) This past week I had the privilege of hosting in my home a baby shower for a young couple in our church. A close friend of theirs asked if I would mind them using my home for this event. Why not? The Cost: (UM, too tired, too much work, takes time and energy?)
Today I am hosting a birthday party for my granddaughter Elina. She turns seven today, and for some reason asked if she could have her birthday gathering at my home, rather than hers. She wants a tea party. Why not? The Cost: (UM, too tired, too much work, takes time and energy?)
The cost of celebration is real. The planning alone takes energy and thought. Preparation of the place, gathering supplies, setting up and the clean up afterward all is part of the cost. The risk–suppose no one comes. Suppose too many people come? It can become overwhelming, if we let it. But love, care and God’s purpose can cause our hearts to move from the “cost” to the harvest. What might be reaped from this expense?
Just hosting a party is a lot of work. Because I was only hosting the baby shower–I did not concern myself with the menu or food purchases–it left me with more time to focus on my home preparation (cleaning). But I also felt a strong need to prepare myself spiritually for the party. I began to pray for the couple and for their guests. I felt a shift in my heart that the Lord’s plan for this party was much more than just fellow-shipping and preparations for this new baby, God was up to something. We did eat, drink and celebrate with good food–but another dimension was added. As we set ourselves to pray for this couple, the Holy Spirit began to move on several of the guests with words for this couple. The Presence of the Lord came and it was as if all the other parts of the celebration were just structure to support His Purpose. Everyone who came knew something significant had taken place. My purpose in sharing this story is to encourage you to not only celebrate the people and milestones in your life, but also do it with prayerful intention. Ask Him to show up. Provide an atmosphere and opportunity to touch the lives of your guests with His love and His grace.
My granddaughter has invited some special friends. Many of them have dietary challenges so their moms have to bring special foods for them. My daughter said, the kids are so excited because they do not get invited often, because most people think it is too hard to have them come. It is a joy to provide this opportunity to host the party for them. I want their moms and siblings to feel the warmth of the Lord in my home. We may not do the extensive prayer we did at the baby shower, but touching these young ones with His love, accepting the parents with grace and joy may just lift their load a little bit.
I want to encourage reluctant hosts or celebrants to shift your focus on the “costs” of the party (time, energy and money) to what you may be purchasing. The opportunity to provide a structure where God’s love can be shared is powerful. Start small if you need to–invite someone for coffee or tea, focus on them, acknowledge their value to you, it might just change their life or at least plant of seed into their hearts. Do it in faith, do it with the intention of enjoying yourself and those you connect with–your own heart will be enriched.