It’s Christmas 2001. One thousand specially invited guests are seated on coaches transporting them to a secret location. They arrive to a splendidly decorated ballroom, find their seats and sit down to a sumptuous meal prepared by chefs from Sydney’s Regent and ANA hotels: a beautiful salad of prawns and mangos, traditional roast turkey and ham with stuffing and vegetables and to top it off traditional Christmas pudding with a gourmet custard. Guests will be treated to complimentary gifts and an evening of entertainment.

Who are these 1000 specially invited guests? They are homeless people from the streets of Sydney. They’ve been invited by Jeff Gambin, a former restauranter. In 1993 Gambin and his wife set up Just Enough Faith. Every night Gambin and his team of volunteers prepare and distribute meals to Sydney’s homeless. They also provide them with housing, employment, rehabilitation and counselling. In the nine years they’ve been running Jeff Gambin and his wife have spent $2.5 million of their own money, and plan to continue until it runs out. And at Christmas they treat the homeless to a celebration normally reserved for the rich and the celebrity.

Gambin knows he will exhaust all his resources and receive nothing material in return. Yet he says “it is easily the most gratifying thing I have ever done in my life.”

What a wonderful image of the banquet feast of God described by Jesus, a banquet to which the marginalised and the poor are invited, a banquet which turns on its head our common notions of importance, status and honour. Here is grace available to all.

Source: reported on Today Tonight news show, Channel 7, December 21, 2001.

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