Do you remember a time when you were welcomed in, where you were told “Make yourself at home!” And you genuinely felt that you could? It’s a powerful experience to receive the hospitality of another! To cross the threshold of a door and experience shelter, welcome, and belonging.
Over these two weeks at both St. Timothy’s and Morehead UMC, the lectionary reading in the gospel of Luke 14:1, 7-14, is inviting us followers of Jesus to ponder our calling to hospitality. The Bible, from beginning to end, carries the theme of hospitality and welcome of the stranger. I believe that Christians can be deeply shaped into the image and ministry of Jesus when we take seriously our call to have hospitable hearts, homes, churches, and spiritual practices.
In a few weeks we will be celebrating our homecoming service through a whole weekend of events. We are calling it “Welcome Weekend.” My hope is that with every event, every space that we make over that weekend for neighbors and old friends to be welcomed in, we might find ourselves living into our callings as Christians. So as the weeks approach and we prepare for Welcome Weekend, where we hope to welcome in new friends and old, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us have hospitable hearts, welcoming hearts.
God has already woven a heart of hospitality into our community in so many ways, and I am so looking forward to how we continue to grow and deepen in our calling toward hospitality in the name of Jesus. Last week someone shared this beautiful poem written by Rev. Steve Granada’s-Holmes that echoes the themes and I wanted to leave this with you for reflection.
“Building a Neighborhood”
They're building a neighborhood next door, clearing land, moving earth, extending the street, erecting houses. I finish my morning prayers on the porch before they arrive with their crashing and beeping. But, Hark! The loader's back-up beep sounds exactly the same note as my singing bowl. Of course. Because I, too, am building a neighborhood— not of buildings but of prayer: a place not in time or space where souls may find shelter and belonging. I am clearing ground, uprooting things, the uneven made level and the crooked made straight. I am laying foundations, offering space, making of my heart a welcome home, so all of us, friend and stranger, near and far, human and not, are neighbors. The builders' work is in this little cul-de-sac, but mine fills the whole world.
__________________ Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light
May God empower us to build a neighborhood, to be with our lives, shelter and belonging for strangers, the doorway for strangers to become friends and neighbor.
Come Holy Spirit!
Pastor Nikki Raye