Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Fabulous Party - Why Did No One Come?

Oscar Wilde wrote the story of “Aunt Jane:”
Poor Aunt Jane was very old and very, very proud, and she lived all alone in a splendid, desolate old house in County Tipperary. No neighbors ever called on Aunt Jane and, had they done so, she would not have been pleased to see them. She would not have liked them to see the grass grown drives of the demesne (land attached to the manor), the house with its faded chintzes (printed multicolored cotton fabric with a glazed finish, used especially for curtains and upholstery) and suites of shuttered rooms, and herself, no longer a toast and beauty, no more a power in the county-side, but a lonely old woman who had outlived her day.
And from year to year she sat alone in her twilight, knowing nothing of what passed in the world without. But one winter, even Aunt Jane became aware of a stir in the air, a wave of excitement sweeping over the neighborhood. The new people were coming into the New house on the hill and were going to give a great Ball, the like of which had never been seen. The Ryans were enormously rich. “Ryans?” said Aunt Jane. “I don’t know the Ryans. Where do they come from?” Then the blow fell. The Ryans came from nowhere in particular and were reported on good authority to be “in business.”
‘“But,” said Aunt Jane, “what are the poor creatures thinking of? Who will go to their ball?” “Everybody will go,” Aunt Jane was assured. “Everybody has accepted. It will be a wonderful affair.”
When Aunt Jane fully realized this her wrath was terrible. This is what things had come to in the neighborhood then - and it was her fault. It had been for her to lead; she had brooded in her tent when she should have been up and doing battle. And then Aunt Jane made her great resolve.
She would give a ball - a ball the like of which had never been imagined: she would re-enter society and show how a grand dame of the old school could entertain. If the county had so far forgotten itself, she herself would rescue it from these impertinent interlopers.
And instantly she set to work. The old house was repainted, re-furnished, the grounds replanted; the supper and the band were ordered from London and an army of waiters engaged. Everything should be of the best - there should be no question of cost. All should be paid for; Aunt Jane would devote the rest of her life to the paying; but now money was as nothing - she spent with both hands.
At last the great night arrived. The demesne was lit for two miles with colored lamps, the hall and staircase were gorgeous with flowers, the dancing-floor smooth and shining as a mirror.
The bandsmen were in their places and bowed deeply as Aunt Jane, in a splendid gown and blazing with diamonds, descended in state and stood at the ballroom door.
There she waited. Time went on, the footmen in the hall, the waiters in the supper-room began to look at each other, the band tuned up two or three times to show its zeal, but no guests arrived.
And Aunt Jane, in her beautiful gown, waited at the ballroom door. Eleven - twelve - half-past twelve.
Aunt Jane swept a deep curtsy to the band. “Pray go and have your supper,” she said. “No one is coming.”
Then she went upstairs and died. That is to say, she never again spoke a word and was dead in three days. And not for some considerable time after her death was it discovered that Aunt Jane had quite forgotten to send out any invitations.
Oscar Wilde’s Aunt Jane gave a very grand party. She died of embarrassment when nobody came. What did she expect? She had never mailed the invitations!
Jesus once told a story about a man who gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.” When the original guests declined, he said to his servant, “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” And the servant said, “Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.” And the master said to the servant, “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:15-24)
Maybe it goes without saying, but … guests come to Bible classes and worship assemblies because they are invited. All the other preparations can be made – a fine building, vibrant singing, fervent prayer, and faithful preaching. But unless we invite, we should not expect the people we influence to be present.
Will you invite the people you know to enjoy a free feast, a banquet which our gracious God provides? It may not be easy, but aren’t you glad someone invited you? Won’t you feel the joy of having offered? Won’t you be certain that you have done what the Host has commanded? And if they come – and many just may – how thrilled and thankful you will be!

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