Plans for the wedding have continued to happen. We continue to look at the guest list and review names and are trying to make room for everyone we would like to invite…which is tremendously difficult at this point because we are limited to 200 people at our venue (which we don’t want to forsake because of beauty, convenience, and price).
As someone who likes everyone to be included, thinking of who we might exclude is a high anxiety process for me. It seriously stresses me out and makes me a bit of a cranky pants.
Tonight my dad and I walked the dogs and picked up fast food. As we walked, we ran into a number of the homeless I see and know and work with each week at the church. They know me by name and excitedly greeted me and introduced me to their companions. As we walked I began to wonder how many of them I should include in the wedding list.
In some ways, I was ashamed to ask the question. I mean, if they were regular Joes who worked and had a home and came to church each Sunday, I doubt I’d ask whether or not they should be included (as long as we’re including church people in general). Allen is just as much a regular as Linda, so should there be any distinction?
Part of me cringes because I have seen “good church people” up and move on Sunday morning when Alean sits next to them in the pew, and I would hate for him to be rebuked or rejected in a similar way at my wedding celebration. If he were there, he’d be just as much an invited guest as anyone else. Why should he be known or treated any differently? (I am sure that he would get a hair cut, take a shower, and even get a nice outfit to wear to the celebration).
But I am still hesitant, for whatever reason. Not as much about Allen specifically, he’s there every Sunday and has been since I invited him for the first time last July, but what about the others? What about the woman who shows up high on crack? Or the men who sit and drink on the church premises? What about those who come for Sunday hot breakfast and maybe even Sunday school, but don’t darken the door of the sanctuary? What about them? Are they not members of our body? Appendages in the eyes of many, but part of the body nonetheless…
In many ways, I know many of these people better than other church members. I see them throughout the week, hear their stories, their laments, tend to their needs in ways I don’t for others (either because I am not asked, or their needs are not as apparent).
In a related conversation, my dad suggested we think about wedding plans as if we were inviting Christ. He thought we should even consider setting a place for Christ at a table. I like the idea. We might even do it. And then I pause and think, “Isn’t giving a seat to Allen the same as offering that seat to Christ?”
Asking the question challenges my notions of inclusivity and hospitality. How open am I really if I still make distinctions between people based on economics or social status? Am I really being Christ-like? Should I show more grace? More inclusivity? Less judgment? Less fear of what others will say?
I realize I am in no way simplifying my wedding craziness. Maybe you can help? Maybe you have wisdom or courage or grace to offer…