Invited by Leslie Verner {Book Review}

“While some of us may be led to move, go, and pledge ourselves to other lands, most of us are tasked with the mission to stay. What if we took that same sense of purpose and “calling” we often attribute to cross-cultural workers, pastors, and missionaries, and poured it into our right-here, right-now lives?What if we weren’t made for more after all? What if we were made for this?”

Leslie Verner in Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness (p48)

In Invited, Leslie Verner offers us a two-way invitation. First, we are invited into our right here, everyday life with the same level of purpose and calling as an overseas missionary or someone in fulltime ministry. We are invited to see the God-given purpose, belonging, and invitation to be in community. Right now.

“And then it hit me. The Samaritan didn’t need to change roads to encounter God. He was walking his road, minding his business, when God brought someone in his path. And then he had a choice: notice and do something, or ignore and move along.”

Invited, page 64

Second, we are invited to invite those around us right into this right now life. Not some perfect, next-level life when we finally get the drapes hung right or learn how to cook. But this life; where the kids underfoot and a lack of time, significant floorspace or measurable energy to spare on hospitality might slow us down. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, but there’s always opportunity to be a part of a community in some shape or from.

It’s easier and probably harder than it may seem.

But I really appreciated the way Verner seamlessly takes her own experiences to invite us to a deeper way of thinking about hospitality, christianity, neighbors, friends, and our own experiences of all those things.

Highlights for me:

  • Verner’s multicultural perspective
  • The discussion about staying put, the challenges of building a community or joining one, and being open to all the different people around you, not just the ones like you.
  • With three little kids close to the ages of my own, the author has many of the same challenges when it comes to inviting people over. And she just gets it.
  • If I had to choose a favorite section, it would be the introduction where all the kids go nuts when they’re trying to host friends for food. So relatable. And hilarious, as it is anytime it’s someone else’s kids.

Extra goodness and wisdom:

  • “What if resistance to selling out actually looks like staying put?” p48
  • “Limits are okay. This, too, is hospitality.” p113
  • “How would helping just one person transform our families, jails, streets, churches, public schools, and hospitals? Instead, we outsource hospitality, and the church misses out on the wisdom of those who have suffered.” p126
  • “Going through the motions can often drag our stubborn hearts along for the ride.” p144
  • “We can’t pour into people from an empty well. Our reservoirs must have a sustainable Source.” p 148
  • “Children are strangers whom we have to get to know.” Nouwen 151

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote inviting us out of the sense of being stuck or lonely into the question of what we might not be seeing and what God might wish for us along the way.

“On lonely days when we may feel out of place, it helps to see our cities as places God picked for us, our neighbors as eternal, and our kitchen sinks as habitations for the spirit of God. Which people does God want us to notice? What wonders is God inviting us to explore? Are we available?”

Invited, page 80

What is God inviting you to explore? Who does God want you to notice?

If it sounds like something you might like, be sure to check it out wherever you might buy a book or you could even request your library purchase it for their collection. It’s ridiculously easy to do.

Disclaimer: I’m so grateful for my internet friend, Leslie, who wrote this book and sent it to me to read. Such fun. ;) All opinions are my own, of course.

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