Since this subject has been brought up in previous readings, I thought I would share some thoughts about reconciliation in a more practical way. If you have identified a broken relationship in your life I hope that it would be your desire to reconcile. If so, perhaps you’re wondering how to go about doing it? Of course, apologies need to be made and perhaps you’ve done that. Maybe you’ve smiled and greeted each other warmly at church or the supermarket. Now what? What can you do to bring the reconciliation to some type of crescendo?
I would suggest to you that there is something that you can do that will honor them and give you opportunity for extended fellowship: invite them to a meal in your home.
This is a lost art in my generation. We seemed to have forgotten how to respect this time-honored tradition. For millenniums, a meal at someone’s home was a real event for everyone involved. The best food was made, the best dishes were used and the scope of the evening went far longer than an hour. This is especially true of Jewish culture, but most cultures revere having someone into their home as a way of showing them great servitude. Is there a better place for reconciliation to happen, than over a meal that you have personally prepared and now serve to your guests? Is there a better way to show someone that you are serious about your relationship?
This can have an enormous impact on someone. Imagine a relationship where you hurt someone. Imagine you said something really cutting, and ripped their life apart with your words. You’ve felt guilty ever since, and have lost countless nights of sleep over it. How do you recover from that? Even after apologies are made, and you are once again cordial with each other, what can restore that type of relationship? With the caveat that it may never be the same again, imagine the impact it would have on you if that person then invited you to their home for a meal. Their actions speak louder than their words. They may have accepted your apology months ago, but this…they’re inviting you to come into their home, to be around their kids and to spend an evening together with you in conversation. What an immense gesture that would be.
We’ve lost the art of entertaining. I will admit that most times I would prefer to go out to eat with others, and this is purely a pragmatic choice. I have children and sometimes they act up, so by going out to eat, I can choose the time of our departure more easily. Spending time in a home doesn’t leave that option. It demands a looser schedule, and a lengthier conversation. This can only be good for us, as it causes us to reach beyond what we’re comfortable with and that’s a great way to get to intimacy in a relationship.
As Joseph moves toward reconciliation with his brothers in Genesis 43, we can only speculate about what he’s waiting for. Perhaps he’s still working through his anger, and perhaps he just doesn’t trust them. Whatever the case might be, he tries to overcome his apprehension and decides to take a step of faith and invite them into his home for a meal. At this meal, they ate their fill and drank far into the night. In this atmosphere, everyone just enjoyed each other’s company and this was most likely the catalyst for Joseph to make amends as the goodness of their current fellowship far outweighed the hurt of the past.
Jesus spent a lot of his time at a table in someone’s home. When he told Zacchaeus he would come to his home, you can bet that a meal was served. Before entering Jerusalem for his last week, he had a deeply spiritual moment over a meal at Simon’s house with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. His last night on earth centered around a special meal with his disciples. He chose a breakfast of fish and chips to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with Peter. Jesus never missed an opportunity to deepen his relationships and further his influence over a meal in someone’s home.
Who can you invite to your home this week? What relationship do you have that could use that sort of act of kindness? Figure it out and extend the invitation. Then, spend a few days getting ready and really put on a show if you can. Honor them in your home and serve them well. Your faith will deepen, your character will grow and their heart will soften. Most importantly, God will be honored you will have the opportunity to praise him for what he has done.