When I read this I had to check that it was not April 1st: a five year old has been billed for failing to turn up to a party! Yes, really! If you don’t believe me, click on this link to the BBC website.
Now I can understand that the host may have been disappointed that the invitee did not turn up as expected. I can understand that they may have been upset that some of the food was not eaten (sausages on sticks and pineapple and cheese on sticks are expensive), perhaps a party bag was unused, and maybe there were fewer children to see the magician (I don’t know if there was a magician but every party needs a magician (hint, hint)!). Some of the expense of the party could be seen as having been wasted, but to invoice someone for not turning up at a party just seems so wrong – there was no contract, just an invitation to be a guest and celebrate. To send an invoice to a non attending guest for £15.95 seems unnecessary. And to invoice a 5 year old is astonishing.
What is perhaps even more astonishing is that this has made the national news! What started as a child’s birthday party is now reported on the BBC news and is on their website (and this bloggage too!). It was only a party but it has resulted in a five year old being invoiced by the host child’s parents and then the hosts being made to look bad by the invitee’s parents going public about it.
What started as a party has ended in a row. I find it unbelievable. It was meant to be joyous and is now acrimonious.
There were plenty of moments when it did not need to have reached this stage. The invitee could have told the host that he could not attend (there’s a dispute about whether or not the contact details were available). The host could have expressed disappointment but perhaps given the invitee a party bag and some cake when they saw him next at school. The invitee could have apologised after the event. The host did not need to issue the invoice. The invitee could have given the host the requested money and not gone public. The host did not need to threaten legal action… There were so many places for grace to abound but instead it has resulted in this mess. Grace is still needed but instead people have entrenched themselves.
How much is this a parable for church or for other relationships we have? If so, who are we in the parable and what’s the place of grace?
Be blessed, be a blessing