Will you accept or reject the invitation?
“O Winnie!” sighed Cousin Esther, “if you would only be serious a few minutes, and think. It is Jesus who invites you! I have accepted—I am happy, but I want you, and—“
“Don’t bother please, Essie; that’s a good girl!" Coaxed Winifred, kissing her cousin. “I will be good, sometime, truly. Just now I want some fun. There’s my party—it’s just too bad you won’t wait for it.”
“I can’t, my dear. I agreed to spend the month with grandmother; you know she is an invalid, and must not be disappointed.”
“But it is really going to be something nice, for this place,” urged Winifred. It is to be a lawn party, and in the evening the ground will be illuminated with Chinese lanterns…I shall invite the Thorntons and Ellises, and all the best people.”
Esther listened gravely. "I hope it will be very pleasant, Winnie. Now I must go and pack; will you help me?”
The next day Esther Gordon left her cousins elegant home for a quiet visit with her invalid grandmother. Winifred missed her at first, but she soon became so interested in her preparations for her party that she forgot everything else.
A few weeks afterward, Esther received a letter from her cousin. Here is a part of it:
“And the party! O Essie, it was a perfect ‘fizzle’ from beginning to end! That is it was not a success, as I meant it to be. Everything was made ready all right, and the house and grounds were beautiful. But when I gave out the invitations,--do you know, not a one accepted? The Thorntons were going to start to Europe at once. The Ellises were going to Bar harbor sooner than they expected. Edith Longly had a nervous attack. Well, there was ever so many excuses. Of course I could have given up the party, but I had engage the caterer, the Chinese lanterns, and the orchestra, and I was bound to go on, anyway. I felt insulted. Most of them could have accepted if they had cared to. Seeing I couldn’t have the people I wanted, I meant to have some anyway; and so I invited our seamstress and her sister, a couple of teachers I know, a lame boy living near, and a dozen or more whom I knew would accept, and be glad to enjoy such a treat. They all came, and in spite of my feeling so disgusted, I enjoyed it greatly. You see, they all enjoyed it so much I was sorry I hadn’t planned it for them in the first place. I wish you had been here. Write soon to
Your loving cousin,
Esther answered the letter at once. Part of it was as follows:
“I am sorry if you were disappointed about the party; but I do not believe you were, really, for you enjoyed the guest who came more than those for whom you prepared. Just read a few verses in Luke14:16-24. Isn’t your experience a perfect parallel to the man in Christ’s parable? Commentators all agree that Christ represented his own gracious invitation to people to come to Him, and receive what he has prepared for those who love Him. Don’t you believe he is insulted when His invitations are refused on one flimsy excuse or another? There are those who will accept and enjoy the feast, and those who excuse themselves will be left out. Do, Winnie, accept. You don’t know what you miss!"
Winifred read the letter carefully, and with growing astonishment and interest. I never thought of it that way before! I wonder if he does feel—insulted! His invitations are beautifully worded, too, and promises so much! Strange I never thought of it—an invitation to be refused or accepted! Which shall it be?”
The Youth’s Instructor
August 2, 1894