Let's be hospitable, inside and out
Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more, fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole. "Fill My Cup, Lord" United Methodist Hymnal, Pp 641)
On the Grand Traverse District, we have had the honor of experiencing hospitality in extravagant ways. On October 20, we gathered at Indian River UMC to welcome Bishop Deborah Kiesey and her husband Brad to Michigan. What an excellent job the people of Indian River did to welcome each one of us and to embrace Bishop Kiesey with northern hospitality (okay, the food was amazing!)
On November 3, Traverse City Central UMC will host our Grand Traverse District Conference. As we prepare we have been talking about effective ways to invite persons to the event, the front door welcome that begins at the parking lot, lunch needs and how to make everything we do accessible to ALL. It is a huge undertaking and you consider such details every week as you welcome persons into your church home.
The 2012, Mission School of the North was hosted by Gaylord UMC (sponsored by the Detroit and West MichiganCconferences' United Methodist Women and Boards of Global Ministries). The studies this year focused on Haiti and Poverty. The Bible Study focus was Immigration (Deuteronomy 10:19). How do we “host” a welcome for those who are new to our land? To our church? Rev. Paul Perez was the Bible Study Leader. He shared with us insights about immigration that started with my favorite Bible Character, Joseph (Genesis 47:20-26), and ended with a conversation about Ruth (Ruth 2:15-16) and hospitality. As Rev. Perez and others in the group talked about hospitality, we shared about ways we make people feel welcome when they come to our churches.
But Joe's closing thoughts continue to nudge me. The question is, “How are we being hospitable when we are outside our church walls?” What if the person that we meet never walks into the doors of our church? For example ...
As I sit at the soccer field on Saturday Mornings, I wonder if there isn’t a way, other than the sideline conversations, that I could show the love of Jesus to the folks who faithfully gather each week to encourage, to teach and to help support our children.
When I go out for lunch following worship on Sunday mornings, I think about what the person who is “serving” me has given up to be in her/his job so that I can enjoy not cooking! Where does this one find his/her Sabbath time?
I wonder about the one afternoon this summer when Lisa and I spent 15 minutes watching a woman’s dog as she went into a store. The woman had not intended to go into the store, she had come with a friend, but for some reason, now needed to go into the store but did not know what to do with the dog. We were in no hurry. The dog appeared harmless. I asked if we could watch her dog for her. Since that day I have wondered if there was a way that we could have let her know that it is Jesus who has empowered us and calls us to “care” for each other and this was just the “right” thing to do.
How does the “hospitality” of our lives impact others? If Jesus is our host what have we learned from his grace and how do we offer it to others…everywhere?
“Host” and “Hospitality” are words that we think about as we welcome persons into “our own” space. Robert Schnase in his book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, shares that “Radical means “arising from the source” and describes (radical hospitality as) practices that are rooted in the life of Christ and that radiate into the lives of others." (page 21)
The scripture from Revelation says that Jesus goes to the door and knocks. It isn’t new, but my mind is trying to think of ways that I can be “radically hospitable” everywhere I go and when God opens up the door, may I have the courage to share with them about the one who knows me as “God’s child.” And may the first thought that goes through my head in any and all situations be, this is “God’s child,” too.
Thank You for your faithfulness,
Rev. Anita K. Hahn