Have you ever shown up at someone’s front door for a party and as soon as you’re greeted by the host you realize you weren’t invited? The tongue-tied greeting gives it away, and soon all doubt is removed when the host hollers back to the kitchen to see if there’s enough food for another guest. Awkward!
Or how about you show up at the restaurant where you’ve overheard a group of co-workers conspire to have lunch and when you walk up to the table you see there are no empty seats. A well-intentioned invitee asks the table next to them if that extra chair is available and they squeeze you in between two other people whom you can’t believe were included over you. Embarrassing!
It’s painful not to be invited. And even if you've never suffered the embarrassment of showing up uninvited it’s agonizing to be asked by a friend why you weren’t at the lunch, the party, the wedding, the celebration and your only honest yet heartrending response is, “I wasn’t invited.” We all long to be invited and when we are not we often look to disparage the inviter. We accuse them of snobbery, elitism, ignorance, or just being too big for their britches! We argue ourselves into believing that we wouldn’t have accepted the invitation even if they had hand delivered it themselves.
God has been and can be accused of many things, but no one can bring the charge against him of not inviting. Without doubt, his invitation comes with some terms but the invitation is open to everyone and this is no more evident than in the life of Jesus. In fact, Jesus is accused of being too open as he invites and accepts invitations from people whose names were never found on invitation lists.
Throughout human history God has been inviting us through prophets, priests, and preachers but the birth of Christ, Christmas itself, perhaps is the most compelling of God’s invitations. You see, Jesus didn’t come to earth on a vacation. Who leaves a perfect paradise for a fallen planet? Jesus didn’t come to earth on a fact-finding mission. Do we think God doesn’t know what’s happening here? Jesus didn’t come here to judge us. We do a pretty good job at that. Jesus came here to invite. Jesus came here to let us know beyond any doubt that God finds no greater joy than having you at his party. And to make that perfectly clear he didn’t just send prophets, priests, and preachers - he came himself. This season every time you look at a nativity scene you’re seeing a personal invitation. The divine hand made human extending itself to all of us. A poignant reminder that you are indeed invited to the grandest event the world will ever know.
No more awkward greetings. No more scrambling for an extra chair. In God’s kingdom you’re always welcomed with enthusiasm and there’s always a seat just for you.