Joy and Gladness, a Feast and a Holiday: Family Gatherings
Festive occasions are a time for us to bind New Testament love with the generous hospitality established in the Old Testament. The sons of Job took turns entertaining their entire family, which, in addition to the seven brothers, included three sisters [1:4-5]. Nehemiah proclaimed that, “At my table were one hundred and fifty” [5:17]. And remember Gaius Titius Justus, who hosted not only Paul but the whole church as well [Romans 16:23]!
Those who possess the spirit of God through faith are granted “spiritual fruit,” the first being love, the second joy. This is particularly evident on those days throughout the Christian year that are characterized by great feasting. Maintaining our joy in the midst of extensive preparations can be a challenge for anyone.
Great family gatherings are truly “investments,” which is actually a military term meaning “full siege.” No one knew this better than a nineteenth-century Englishwoman by the name of Isabella Beeton. The wife of a publisher, she wrote a widely circulated book on household management. In it she stated, “As with the commander of an army . . . so it is with the mistress of a house.”
The return on the expenditures of time, energy, and resources is put away in the memory bank of all those present. The gift of saying “remember when” is dependent upon what is done “now.” It may also be helpful to you to reflect upon the words of Leo Tolstoy’s character in Resurrection, Prince Nekhlyudov, who said, “Let everyone be himself and we’ll all be as one.” Is this not the sentiment of Proverbs 17:1, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife”?
This was certainly the sentiment of Paul, as he consistently taught sensitivity to the habits of others. And on a much lighter side, think of all the marvelous leftovers! Calvin Trillin once said, “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”
A concluding thought comes from the first-century A.D. Roman philosopher, Epicetus: “Bear in mind that you should conduct yourself in life as at a feast.” What could that mean for us? On days of special blessing, we are especially commanded: “When you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them . . . you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”[Deuteronomy 8:12, 18]
The crown of the home is godliness
The beauty of the home is order
The glory of the home is hospitality
The blessing of the home is contentment
[Henry Van Dyke, 1852–1933]
From Come to the Table. Copyright ©2008 Benita Long. (Thomas Nelson). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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