As Riley’s dance recital approached, I reached out to a couple of my dance mom friends assuming we would take the lead in collecting money from the dance company’s families to buy teacher gifts and flowers as we had for the past few years. But when I brought it up, they reminded me the tradition was that the moms of senior daughters didn’t do the gifts because they usually had so much on their plates. We agreed that we had a lot on our collective plates. My friend Kim noted that the moms of the younger girls would be happy to help and then said, “We’ve never even asked them to help.” In that moment, I knew she was right. I sent a group text the next morning, and within minutes, the younger dancers’ moms had gladly agreed to take over the process. All we had to do was ask.
I think we choose not to ask people to participate in many situations. If we hadn’t asked the dance moms, they wouldn’t have known that we needed or wanted their help. If we don’t extend an invitation to join in conversation, we exclude others who might be longing for a chance to speak. If we don’t reach out to check on others, we miss the opportunity for connection. If we don’t tell people that we want them to come with us, we won’t give them the opening they need to become part of the group. We assume that if others want to help or be involved in any way, they’ll take it upon themselves, but this is rarely the case. All of us need to feel wanted. We need to invite others into our circles, our communities, and our lives.
Jesus invited people. When he first approached the men who would become his disciples, he said, “Come, follow me” (Matt. 4:19). After Zacchaeus climbed a tree to catch a glance of him, Jesus invited himself over to the man’s house. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). Jesus wanted the little children to come to him (Luke 18:16) and told Peter to come out of the boat and walk on water with him (Matt. 14:29). At one point, Jesus and his disciples were trying to have a conversation, but “because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:30-31). And after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he called to the disciples to bring him some of the fish they’d just caught saying, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12).
Jesus didn’t assume folks would join or follow him. Instead, he asked them to help him, to have a meal, or get away from the stress of life for a little while. The God of the universe invited people then and continues to call us today. God asks us to partner with him in inviting everyone to share in God’s community and his love.