come to the party
The invitation came as a surprise. But my brother has always been good at arranging things, so I began to see that it would be possible with a bit of careful planning. Our parents’ 40th wedding anniversary was approaching, and my brother suggested I come to the party. Not unreasonable, except ... I was living in Kenya. Why not make a surprise appearance? Initially I had a few concerned moments imagining the shock it might cause, but decided to go ahead. Plans were carefully laid; I flew over and stayed in a hotel to keep my arrival secret. No-one involved in the scheme gave the game away.
Months later I saw a video; family members arriving for the evening party, and my parents greeting them – I wasn’t the only unexpected guest. These surprises were enjoyed, and then the moment came for my appearance. After the initial shock was dispelled by joy, it was a great celebration!
Years later and back in Britain, I now teach English to speakers of other languages, and have to find tasks that give my students opportunities to practise and improve their skills. One activity that works well is to ask students to work in small groups and come up with a list of twelve guests for the Greatest Dinner Party in history. They may choose anyone, dead or alive, real or fictional, and must be prepared to give reasons for their choices; providing opportunity for discussion and reaching a consensus. Then each group presents their conclusions. It’s fascinating to hear who is considered sufficiently important, famous, interesting, or entertaining to be included.
The invitation has arrived to an exceptional party. Thinking about it ahead of time is exciting and compulsive; it’s hard not to day-dream. Who’ll be there? There’ll be old friends as well as new faces; maybe a few surprises. What to wear? What to take? This particular host is sure to provide excellent entertainment. The RSVP is sent off, the outfit decided, a present bought. All that remains is to wait patiently for the great day - easier said than done!
what the Bible says…
It surprised me to realise how many Bible references there are to parties of one sort or another. Jewish culture is steeped in festivals for family and community with special meals and get-togethers. The Sabbath is for rest and refreshment, and begins with a shared meal. Specific days and seasons recall events in Jewish history – sometimes with fasting and prayer, more often with feasting and celebration. Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding party [John 2:1-10]; he told stories about parties [Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 15:11-32]; and the Bible ends with the greatest event ever. The invitations have been sent out, and an angel declares, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb!” [Revelation 19:9]
Heaven invites us to a party!