There is something special about the Larsens’ dining room table.
It has nothing to do with its large size—though it is a considerable 12 feet long. Nor is it the over 1,000 signatures found on its underside, left by the many guests who have come to break bread with Carl and Angel Larsen and their eight children.
“It’s the centerpiece of our home,” writes Carl, “a place for lively discussion and real hospitality.”
When Carl says “hospitality,” he means it. You see, Carl and Angel Larsen invite anyone and everyone to come over to their home in St. Cloud, Minnesota. All are welcome—friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
“We love having a diverse group of people around our table,” says Angel. “I feel like it makes our lives richer.”
The Larsens have hosted many, including an atheist who comes over for barbeque, a Chinese Buddhist who shares their love of sushi, as well as a Vietnam veteran struggling with addiction who joined them for their Christmas celebration.
What makes this table so special are the conversations that happen around it every day. Conversations between people with all different kinds of beliefs and backgrounds.
“[Having] eight children means we can’t afford to travel the world, so we bring the world to us,” writes Angel. “We do this precisely because we believe beauty exists in the diversity of God’s creation.”
While we often wait for God to act through giant show-stopping events, we forget that He is working through regular people in everyday situations. God is working through your trips to the grocery store, your morning commute, and your conversations with coworkers.
The Larsens know this well. When they share a simple meal with friends, neighbors, or strangers, they are showing Christ’s love to others through their generous hospitality.
Carl and Angel know that by simply sharing their story and listening to the stories of others, they are building relationships that God can work through.
Storytelling is very important to the Larsens—in fact, it is their profession. The couple founded Telescope Media Group, a video production company that helps people share stories that glorify God. They would like to bring their talents to the wedding industry and use their gifts to promote their religious beliefs about marriage.
Unfortunately, Minnesota’s government won’t allow them to do that. According to state officials, a state law mandates that if the Larsens tell marriage stories that are consistent with their beliefs about marriage, then they must tell stories about marriage that violate their beliefs as well. If they decline to do so, they would face steep fines and even up to 90 days in jail.
The Larsens are currently challenging this unconstitutional law in federal court. If they win, they could help preserve the freedom of speech for all creative professionals—quite a large impact.
But Carl and Angel know that their every-day hospitality also leaves an important impact.
While God is at work through their stand in the courtroom, he is also at work in the conversations around their family table.