August Musings: Radical Hospitality

. . . you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.                                                                                                                          Deuteronomy 10:19

 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.   Matthew 18:5

 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.                                 Matthew 25:35

 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.                                                                                                  Romans 15:7

Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.                                       Hebrews 13:2

All throughout the Bible we have examples of, and admonitions to practice, hospitality. In his book 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations Bishop Robert Schnase says, “Christian hospitality refers to the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ” (Abingdon Press, 2007; p. 11).

In his book, Robert Schnase identifies five characteristics that are consistently and persistently practiced in congregations that are vibrant, fruitful, and growing. The first practice Bishop Schnase identifies is Radical Hospitality.  Radical Hospitality includes invitation, welcome, and inclusion. It must become the very essence of the Christian community—the expression of the gospel. It should permeate everything the church is doing.

As a congregation, we are created by God to be the body of Christ in this community and in the world. Because we have been fashioned by an infinitely creative God, we have everything we need to participate in the mission of the church: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our mission is to help persons connect with God, through Jesus, in ways that bring change—change in individual hearts, change in individual behaviors, change in relationships, change in community organizations, change in ministry focus, change in societal structures, and change in global systems. This transformation flows from a dynamic, life-changing, relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus invites people, through us, into his Kingdom in a welcoming spirit, and we need to be willing to go as far as it takes to bring just one more who is waiting to be invited. This month you will most likely encounter someone you can invite to a church activity. Be hospitable, and remember that Jesus made a place for you and a place for me. He’s asking us to be his servants and to make a place for others in the Kingdom so that we might all say, “Welcome to the Kingdom. Welcome.”

Grace & Peace, Keep Praying

Pastor Mark