Column: Practicing hospitality

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Commentary by Michael VandenBerg

The letter to the Roman Church in Chapter 12 says; ” Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

What a blessing when we can practice love for one another in tangible ways. The blessing is not just for those who receive but for us when we give, maybe even more so. This past week I got the chance to practice hospitality with two of God’s people. They both needed to experience God’s grace but both in different ways. One had gone through severe health problems and needed to see that God’s people would care for them. The second has gone through nine years of legal wrangling (still not over) and just needed to know that God would provide.

For the first, hospitality was shown when several congregations in Lawrence, met their financial needs due to depleted funds caused by being out of work as the result of their illness. God’s people are called to care for their own and others and it was marvelous to see this happen first hand.

The second was shown hospitality by God’s people providing a weekend away from all the worries and troubles and met all their weekend expenses. This for them would not have been possible due to their mountain of legal bills. By the end of the weekend you could see the peace and relaxation on their faces.

Hospitality is more than just serving coffee after church. It is the deep care given to another without the expectation of return. Hospitality is the tangible expression of love for another whom we perhaps don’t even know. When this happens, those who receive are blessed, the ones who give are blessed and the community of God’s people is blessed. Perhaps, even the larger community is blessed by people having their hearts restarted so they will respond again, the next time.

If you have been hurt by the church, turned away by the church, ignored by the church or been invisible to the church, then I want to apologize to you and ask your forgiveness. We are called to do better than that and I hope you will give us another chance. God would expect nothing less and neither should we in practicing hospitality.

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