We ‘Welcome’ really well. We are open and receiving.
Interesting, because in a sense when you are welcoming it is not welcomed who needs to change to make being hospitable a reality.
We welcome by opening a door, offering refreshment, turfing the cat off of the most comfortable seat. We do not stand behind a locked door, staring through frosted and shouting through the barrier; we would not expect a guest to bring their own drink; and we would expect them to sit on the floor in favour of the cat.
God’s Grace is welcoming and calls us to be the same.
In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Luke 15:1-10 we read this evening about Jesus and the Pharisees and teachers of the law at loggerheads. Not only was Jesus welcoming tax collectors and sinner, but he was putting them beyond the ordinary. Lost sheep and lost coins given every last drop of resources and attention.
We are challenged to such welcome that rejoices, is thrilled by hospitality.
“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:13 (NIV)
Participating in the Lent group at St.Peter’s these past five weeks has been both thought provoking and inspiring.
More generally, in terms of helping to make the implicit become explicit. We all have notions (in this case we have been exploring hospitality in a Christian context) that we implicitly understand. But it is often not until we make those notions explicit and investigate them further that we appreciate their full significance. The group has certainly helped me in that regard.
More specifically, I have felt that I have had my own views challenged and horizons widened and have acted differently in my daily life as a result. The differences have perhaps been relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but I hope that those small differences have been helpful – and more hospitable – for others.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the journey that the Lent groups from St. Peter’s and the Methodist Mission have taken together this year.
oOo oOo oOo
On a different – but related – note, I popped in to Church today and had an impromptu conversation with a visitor there. I was heartened to hear that this person was thrilled by the fact that St. Peter’s was open so much of the time. The person went on to describe how – more often than not – they would arrive at a Church to visit, only to find the building closed up and inaccessible, or the hospitality lacking. Whilst clearly not delighted that the visitor’s experience of many Churches has been a cold or unwelcoming one, it was great to hear that their experience of St. Peter’s hospitality was so positive.
Long may our tradition of warmth, openness and accessibility – truly being a Church in the heart of the town – continue.
Morning prayer Friday seemed to round off conversations about hospitality and our call to ‘show’ mercy as seen in the ‘Good Samaritan’.
From Galatians 5 and in the ‘Message Version, Paul writes:
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.
What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
Again from the ‘Good Samaritan’ – “go do (or be) likewise….”
Good news is always a welcomed guest.
At the point I felt someone moving far away from influence and help, experience tells me they were to be moved without thought or favour to ’who knows where.’ I was actually expecting a phone call from somewhere far off, even outside Yorkshire.
Word came, good news – relocation hardly further than they had been travelling the last weeks. Beautifully, connections and hospitality are in place, friends are ready and a centre of prayer to continue a sometimes frightening journey.
Give us grace to welcome and sustain.
Their (and your) prayers are part of the construction that is our church family!
My starting point is ‘yes’, simply because I have spent another morning trying to work out how a Lent Group can rely on visuals to draw out gospel truths and therefore focus learning in a non traditional way. What picture(s) does the word ‘Hospitality’ bring to your mind’s eye?
Then I was looking for something specifically visual for the early part of Matthew 10. Not much luck in the trawl on Google, however I phrased my search. Nothing is devised or tagged as yet…!
And yet….and yet….
I found this wonderful extract based around the call of the disciples and the following of Jesus. It is based on what would have happened if the whole of Jesus’ ministry was ‘Twittered’. Nothing to do with Matthew 10 – but I was inspired to contact the parish wordpress whizz to work his magic.
I found the piece both clever in its design and moving in its proclamation of the Gospel story.
Follow the link to media on the Huddersfield Parish Church Web Site.