“What if you could invite Jesus to breakfast?”
That’s what my five year old, Michael, remembers from today’s sermon. He has rolled it around and around in that cute little head of his and at lunch announced that he was going to invite Jesus to breakfast at our house next Sunday.
So sweet. I smiled at him. He did not smile back--he was focused. This was serious business. Michael cleared a place at the table and pulled out his drawing pad and Crayolas and went to work. This was: Very. Serious. Business.
About 45 minutes and five pieces of paper later Michael proudly produced an invitation worthy of a king. Colorful borders, rainbows and soaring doves bordered the words:
“pleese come to brekfast
at our hous on sunday”
“How will you get that to Jesus?” I asked, amused.
“I’ll mail it.” Problem solved
“But I don’t know Jesus’s address, do you?”
“Of course! Everyone knows His address. He lives in heaven! Can you mail it for me please?” Michael thrust the invitation towards me. Reluctantly I took it. What do I do now? I am proud of Michael’s love for Christ, but I know this isn’t going to happen. How do I explain that to a five year old?
“What if Jesus is busy? Sunday is a very busy day for Him---Church you know.” There. That’s a good way out.
“He can come after Church and we can have a big after church breakfast with pancakes and bacon, okay? I’m going outside to swing, bye!” And out the back door he ran—leaving me, invitation in hand, clueless as to how I was going to explain this one. I put the invitation on my dresser and resolved to pray on it that night.
I shift the baby to my left hip and grab Michael’s hand.
“Great sermon, Pastor,” my husband shook our minister’s hand. As we are leaving church I am still mulling over what to tell Michael when Jesus does not come to our house later this morning. Michael has worked so hard on this—insisting on setting the table before church so we are ready for the guest of honor. Earlier in the week Michael insisted I buy “The bestest” pancake mix----the kind you add water, shake and pour. I also had to buy two pounds of bacon---because Michael assured me that Jesus really loves bacon.
As we drive home I am rehearsing what I will tell Michael when Jesus does not come. Maybe He is busy with other Churches. Maybe he is helping sick people and busy doing miracles all over the world. I am lost in these thoughts as I realize our car is pulling over to the shoulder and coming to a stop.
“What is it?” I ask my husband, even though I can plainly see a car on the side of the road and a man sitting on the grass with his head in his hands.
“That’s what I’m going to find out; be right back.” My husband leaves the car and I see the man rise and watch the two of them talk at length. I smile, thinking maybe I’ll tell Michael that Jesus’s car broke down. I watch as my husband pulls out his cell phone and offers it to the man.
A few minutes pass and I hear a huff from the back seat. “How much longer are we going to be here?” Michael frowns. “We’re going to be late for Jesus.”
“I don’t know, honey.” I paused. “Oh wait, Daddy’s coming back now.”
The two men return to our car and my husband asks me to sit with the kids in the back so that this man, whom he introduces as Mr. Reynolds, can sit up front with him. Mr. Reynolds is an older gentlemen, who looks very tired and worn out. His eyes are puffy and red as if he’d been crying. As we begin to pull back onto the highway my husband explains that Mr. Reynolds was on his way to the hospital to see his wife when his car broke down. His wife is very ill from her chemotherapy.
I offer a quick prayer in my mind for Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds and I thank God for giving me an excuse for Michael on why we will miss Jesus at breakfast.
“Can we hurry please!” Michael whines, “We have important company coming!”
Mr. Reynolds quickly offers to find another ride; call a cab perhaps. But my husband re-assures him that the hospital is only 15 minutes away and-- as he winks at me, states that our ‘company’ will surely understand and forgive our lateness. Michael doesn’t look convinced, but isn’t going to pout in front of a stranger. Instead he quietly watches the world zip by out his car window.
It isn’t long before we arrive at the hospital to drop off Mr. Reynolds. My husband refuses the money offered to him and the two men shake hands and part. As my husband returns to the car I beam telling him, “That is a good thing you did!”
“It was weird.” As he drove the car out of the parking lot, my husband smiled. “I saw him there and almost drove by, like everyone else. But I felt a tug in my heart and I just had to stop.” As he merged the car onto the highway he added, “I am so glad that I did.”
I am offering a quiet prayer in my head, thankful for God’s guiding hand and asking comfort and healing for the Reynold when my son calls out, “Oh! I get it!”
“What’s that?” My husband asks.
“Jesus isn’t coming to breakfast, but I know He got my invitation!”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“In Sunday School today Miss Lewis told us how Jesus said if you help someone else that you are really serving Jesus. So don’t you see Mom?” I shook my head and Michael grinned.
“We just served Jesus His breakfast!”
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)