Monday, May 1, 2017

Hospitality at its Finest

Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

Years ago, Staci and I met a gal at church who was so very heart-broken. We stopped to pray with her and found that her children had been taken from her because she was deemed an unfit mother, particularly because she couldn't provide for them. She was living at the Salvation Army and all hope seemed lost to her. That next week, we went to the Salvation Army to see what we could do to help her and found her sitting in the flower bed at the front of the building. Staci sat down beside her and began to sing the song she had written for those who were hopeless and lived beneath their God-given abilities. The words she sang spoke about the special purposes and plans God has for her, the greatness that lies in her, and how much God wants to make her dreams come true." When Staci finished singing, a disheveled woman came up to us and said, God says to you "As you've done to the least of these, you've done it unto Me. Well done, good and faithful servants." Then she left us, and we could never find her to thank her. The good news for the young woman we were praying with, her life began to radically change, doors opened for her to get a good job, get back on her feet again and get her family back together. The good news for Staci and I, we believed we encountered God in human flesh in that woman who encouraged us for being hospitable.

The Gospel reading at church yesterday was from Luke 24:13-35 which was about the two disciples who were walking home to Emmaus on Easter Sunday and Jesus appeared to them and walked with them. He spoke to them, encouraged them and not until they asked Him to come home and have dinner with them, did He reveal Himself to them. Their hospitality opened the door for Jesus to be seen.

I loved Pastor Larry's explanation that Christ is always in our midst, and we, too, may be unaware that the stranger sitting next to us in church, the driver in the car that is trying to find a parking space and we let them take the one we were going after, or the young woman needing assistance with her arms that are so full with her baby and diaper bag. All of those are hospitality opportunities. Maybe, it's even opening the doors to our home to that one at church that seems so lonely. Maybe, it's the next door neighbor that is sick and needs a bowl of soup -- but even more so, a friend that exudes Christ likeness.

The fact is, we are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and this world needs His hospitality. Pastor Larry told us the story of preaching this sermon many years ago in a Spanish Church. After talking about Jesus being in their midst, He said, "Will the real Jesus, please stand up!" To his shock and the shock of the congregation, one man in the middle of the congregation stood up. What Pastor Larry had forgotten, is that in the Spanish culture, oftentimes, parents will name their baby boys "Jesus". It was humorous to say the least, but I ask you and me today, "Will the real Jesus please stand up?" That real Jesus is found in you and you and me, as we reach out and touch others with His love, servitude and hospitality.