(The following is a reflection on Steve Carter’s message “Invite People to the Banquet.” The video and the transcript are also available to you.)

 The wear and tear on objects in our lives betray something about us.

Growing up, the couches of my family said, “Yeah, the humans spend a lot of time on us. We’re barely keeping it together, as you probably can tell.”

That is to say, the name of “living room” was fitting. Where we ate. Where we hung out to talk. Where we drank our warm beverages of choice. Where we hosted their group of “disciples.”

And it’s where we watched all of the movies. Where we talked about them, too... before and in between—we little humans sometimes didn’t love that—and then once the credits rolled.

Back to during, though.

Someone would get up. Maybe for a bathroom break. Maybe for some tea. Maybe for a snack. Maybe for something else. And in that moment, whoever’s hand had the remote would click the button—pause.

Granted, sometimes it became a full-fledged intermission.

“Oh, in the meantime, I will...”

“In that case, I am going to...”

“Well, now I might as well...”    

But even if it was just the original instigator, we would wait. We wouldn’t hit the button—play—until we all were gathered once again.

To the person(s) that stood up, the messages were clear.

We see it if you’re here. We see it if you’re not.

And there is no point to this thing if you’re not here.

I think of many things around this one word—family. And that is one of them. How much of a difference it legitimately makes if one person is missing. And how much of an expression of love it is to verbally share that reality with the person. Verbally in actions. Verbally in words.

I don’t believe that we instinctually long to return to somewhere where we’ve felt invisible... or visible in undesirable ways (“Who’s that? They don’t belong here.”)... where we have felt not like an insider but like an outsider inside (which probably is worse than being an outsider outside).

...I can’t remember where I heard this line, or something very close to it, but the idea has stayed with me anyway:

People fall in love with community before they fall in love with God.

But how likely is that to happen unless someone comes to feel like an insider?

And what brings that reality about truly is ongoing, authentic relationship.

That is how I want to live—building that sort of relationship.