Luke 7:1, 7-14
“Hospitality” is a tricky word. In the business sector of our society, it means something very different than in our faith practice. The “Hospitality Industry” is full of serving people, certainly – but it is always with the expectation of something in return. Payment for services rendered. A good review to friends and families who will then come spend their money at the restaurant or hotel.
But when hospitality is in a faith context, we have to separate ourselves from the business meaning. We have to follow a different way. We have to follow the way of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When someone hears “Christian hospitality”, I want them to think of extravagant kindness. When someone hears “Christian hospitality,” I want them to think “Jesus hospitality.” Jesus, the person who showed us how to gain the whole world by giving up everything, the person who brought in the kingdom of God by inviting in the blind, the crippled, the lame, the poor. When someone hears First Christian Church, I want them to know that here we follow Jesus’ example, not just in the Lord’s Prayer that he taught us, but in our hospitality and love.
Here at First Christian, we show Christian hospitality by giving others the best places. We have Visitor spots closest to the sanctuary, making sure that strangers are the most important to us.
We show Christian hospitality by serving cold water at the Farmers Market. Not because we will get anything out of it! Not because more people will come to worship, and give money in order to meet our budget. In other words, not because we want repayment.
Sometimes we fall into the very human trap of doing things because of the benefit it will have for us. We feel better when there are more people in the pews on Sunday morning, adding voices to our hymn singing and energy to our worship. We feel less anxious when there are more givers to our offering, so that we can meet the financial obligations of having a church building and holding services. Those things are natural! And we certainly want more people at church so that more people will hear the Good News of God’s love. But when we allow ourselves to stay stuck in those thoughts, rather than turning them to the foundation of why we have a church building, what our purpose as church is, when we focus on the scarcity rather than Jesus’ command to serve others, we lose.
The mission of our church – the purpose of Church in the world – is to spread and grow the love of God. To tell and show others that God loves them. To serve others, just like Jesus. Let’s make our Christian hospitality=Jesus hospitality.