A few weeks ago I was fighting with my husband. It doesn’t happen very often, and for that I’m very thankful. But as usually accompanies the change of a season, our schedules weren’t quite in sync yet and we were frustrated with one another. Add to that a scheduling conflict that meant we weren’t going to be able to attend an event I had been looking forward to for several months that made our faces grim and our words anything but kind.
We’ve been at our new church almost a year now, and this spring when they announced a “Field and Vine” homecoming celebration of harvest and friendship, I was all in. What a great excuse to book a sitter, get dressed up, and make some new friends at our new church. And after witnessing months of the incredible fare laid out at coffee hour, I knew the folks of this church were going to throw one heck of a party.
But Darin had a work thing for the same night, and even though it had also been on the calendar for months, both of us had missed the scheduling conflict. And even though there wasn’t anything either of us could do, I was sorely disappointed to have to miss Field and Vine (because you better believe this introvert wasn’t going by herself!). And so we fought about it, and then we moved on, because in marriage sometimes you just have to move on.
But then, God…
Yes, a miracle happened on Monday and Darin’s schedule changed! It looked like we might be able to go after all. I’d heard some rumblings that the event may have been sold out, and as I clicked over to the church facebook page, the worst was confirmed. Only 9 hours earlier they had posted that tickets were no longer available.
Fabulous for the event organizers.
Another disappointment for me.
But it can’t hurt to ask, right? So I sent an email to one of the event organizers and also posted a comment on facebook. Would there be any sort of a waiting list for tickets? And if so, could Darin and I please get on it?
A few hours later I had an email reply: “I was just looking over the [auction] catalog and saw the lovely item you have donated for the silent auction. Just come on Friday and your name will be on the reserved but not paid list.”
We were in!
Aunt Mandi agreed to take our kids for a sleepover, I bought a new dress and searched hair tutorials on pinterest. We got dressed up and took some pictures.
And had the most lovely time. The atmosphere, the food, the people, the auction, the décor…all meticulously presented. It was just as I knew it would be.
During dinner I excused myself to the restroom and ran into Jane, a woman in church leadership who we had met months earlier at a welcome brunch. She smiled at me and told me how lovely I looked and asked if I was having a good time. I leaned in for a hug and told her I was definitely enjoying myself, and how grateful I was to be there, that it almost hadn’t happened.
“I’m so glad,” she responded. “When I saw your name come through for a ticket request I thought to myself Nate and I will stand in the back if we have to. Those two must be at the party!”
As I walked away from her I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. She would have given up her seat for me. I thought the miracle had been in clearing Darin’s schedule, but the real miracle had been in us having our chairs. At a table named “laughter.”
I am still marveling at this interaction with Jane. To be welcomed, to be wanted, to be told “you have a place at the table, even if that means I’m giving up my seat.” What could be more of an example of Christ’s love than that? What could be a better example of Christ-like hospitality that welcomes the weary stranger as treasured guest, giving up our places of honor for their benefit? And oh, I felt it. I feel it. So very very loved.
Thank you Grace Church for the gift. The food and wine and music and company was divine. But the welcome and the love were even more so. You are truly doing God’s good work. I am grateful to be a part of your family.