We enjoy having guests over for lunch or dinner and, in anticipation of our guests, we usually decorate the table with a theme. One of our favorite themes is song birds. So our guests tend to be greeted by a table adorned with dinnerware embellished with cardinals, chickadees and goldfinches, along with color-coordinated placemats and tiny birds that are actually place-card holders — each one proudly displaying the name of an honored guest. We’re not trying to be “fancy”; we’re trying to make our guests feel special. And when they see the preparations, and their names displayed, their faces light up with big smiles.
Place-cards and place-card holders date back to Edwardian times, but were popularized during the Victorian Era. Place-cards served several purposes: in earlier days, social ranking was important to people — not like today, we hope! — and people were seated in order of their ranking, which was based on age, economics and other factors affecting social standing (such as military or civil positions). Ahem, yes, quite so!
Place-cards were also used to ensure guests were suitably matched to a person of similar temperament and interests, hence promoting social interaction and ensuring no one felt uncomfortable or got left out of a conversation. We actually approve of this particular use of place-cards, because in general, we go out of our way to make each guest feel at home and to involve them in easy conversation.
A third use of place-cards was a bit more devious, and it involved the romantic schemes of the hostess, who imagined that male bachelor guest “A” would really hit it off with unmarried female guest “B”! The matchmaking aim of the hostess no doubt being a nice wedding to attend, followed by christenings for future children “C” through “F”! We would never stoop to such shenanigans. At least, we’d never confess to it.
But really, our personal reasons for having place-cards is solely to make our guests feel welcome and extra-special. Imagine, you walk to a table covered with cheery decorations, and next to one of the place-settings is a card with your name inscribed upon it. What do you think? Our hope is that you would immediately realize several things: first, that you were purposely invited — you’re not an afterthought, a last minute addition, just someone we allowed to pull up a chair.
We want you to know we intended for you to be here. It was always in our plans to have you dining at our table. And because it was always in our plans, we made special preparations just for you! When you see your place-card, you realize we have a seat picked out just for you, a special place reserved for you that no one else is going to take. IT. HAS. YOUR. NAME. ON. IT!!
Heaven is like a big dining table with place-cards. “‘Blessed are those who are invited to the lamb’s wedding banquet.'” (Revelation 19:9 GOD’S WORD) Each “place-card” has the name of a special guest God has invited to dine with Him. These names also appear on His guest list, “written in the Lamb’s book of life…” (Revelation 13:8 NIV)
Our Heavenly Father wants us to feel welcome. He wants us to know that we’re not an afterthought; we were always in His plans. God made special arrangements for each of us. He wants us to realize that He has set aside a special place for each of us. We have a reserved seat in His kingdom, a special chair at His table — a spot with our name on it! “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3 NASB)
We hope you’re on God’s guest list; that He’s inscribed your name on a place-card. Of course, you have to let the Lord know you’re ready to attend — by allowing Jesus Christ to redeem you. (And we all need redemption!)
“For God loved the world so much that he gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)