This is reality You are coming to reign on the earth


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hospitality: the pillar of Christian works

In the midst of a religious setting based on publicity and prestige, Jesus, a first century Jewish prophet, protested. He had the audacity to claim that HE was the Son of God and that it was the criteria that He set up that was important. To explain His criteria Jesus sets up this scene of immense magnitude; all of heaven is watching and waiting before His throne at the end of the ages. He brings all humanity before them and judges them according to their deeds. He looks at those who fed the hungry, gave drink to those who were thirsty, invited strangers in, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned and invites them to join Him in everlasting glory. He looks at those who did not do these things and condemns them to eternal death. Then Jesus says to all humanity “truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even to the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40. NAS 95) Jesus takes the established religious system of His day and flips it onto its head. It is not about your religious service before God that matters, it is what you have done to the least of. Jesus clearly states that it is how one engages humanity around them that matters.

So here we are, 2009, reading this text. What does this mean for us? How do we apply this story in the midst of society, which so often claims to have evolved so far from the times of Jesus Christ? How are we bound to these words? The church of Jesus Christ through its first 1700 years found a way to truly embody the criteria to which Christ has laid out. It is simple, yet incredibly profound; it is hospitality. Hospitality is the embodiment of what Jesus said when He told the Pharisees that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. The leaders then replies by asking Jesus who his neighbor was, which Jesus replied with a story. A Jewish man went on a journey and was attacked by thieves, which left him for dead. A priest and a Levite pass by him and do nothing while a Samaritan man (a sworn enemy of Jews) stops and saves his life. He brings him to an inn and pays for his stay; still not finished with his generosity, the Samaritan man tells the owner of the inn that when he returns, he will pay the outstanding bill. Jesus then asks the young leader which one showed mercy to the injured traveler; the leader replied that it was the Samaritan. Jesus then said to him, “go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36) If we believe what the Genesis writer wrote, that we are created in the image of God, why would we not help those in need? Yet, the early church writers went even farther; Saint Jerome implored the early church to “welcome the poor and strangers to your homely board, that with them Christ may be your guest.”[1] The early church thought that when you invited strangers into your home, you might be inviting the very Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This came out of the tradition that believed that when the Patriarch Abraham served and showed hospitality to the three travelers that he was actually entertaining the Holy Trinity. (Genesis 18) As the Hebrew writer said “do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angles without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Yet what does hospitality look like for a 21st century Christian? It is not the kind you get at your local Howard Johnson. Hospitality is “welcoming strangers into a home and offering them food, shelter, and protection”[2] and many in the early church felt that it was the “pillar on which all morality rested; it encompassed the good.”[3] Gregory of Nyssa said, “the stranger, those who are naked, without food, infirm and imprisoned are the ones the Gospel intends for you. The wander and naked, and ill person without necessities stand in need by reason of their hardships. A homeless person or one with no work lacks life’s necessities; they are nevertheless imprisoned by illness. You have the fullness of the commandments with regard to these persons, so lend the Lord everything you have by showing mercy.”[4] Those who are in need and those who cannot repay are the ones Christ and the early church has commanded us to go to. The beauty of it is that any of us can do it. This does not imply starting a soup kitchen or opening a thrift store, it implies that we open our home to those who need. It implies taking the words of Christ seriously and helping others simply on the basis that they are just that, others. I think this is what Paul meant when he told the Philippian church to “not look our for your own personal interests, but for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4, my own translation.) I think hospitality in the 21st century is to have an open door policy and to have a preverbal sign in the yard that says “vacant.”

“The practice of hospitality forces abstract commitments to loving the neighbor, stranger, and enemy into practical and personal expressions of respect and care for actual neighbors, strangers, and enemies.”[5] In a single phrase, showing hospitality to others is being “Jesus with skin on.” Hospitality is how we engage with the “least of these” and it is how we show the world a risen Christ; we embody Christ and we welcome Him into our lives. Hospitality is the way in which we join at the great feast of the past (tradition), we engage in the great feast of the present (practice) and we engage in the feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb (the not yet). So I encourage you, nay, I exhort you, “since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run the race set before us” (Heb 12:1); the race that has open hearts, open minds, and open homes. Amen.

[1] St. Jerome, Letter 52. And You Welcomed Me: A sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity. Edited by Amy Oden. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 67.

[2] Pohl, Christine. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian tradition. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI. 4.

[3] Pohl, Christine. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian tradition. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI. 5.

[4] Gregory of Nyssa. Homily: as you did it to one of these, you did it to me. And You Welcomed Me: A sourcebook on Hospitality in Early Christianity. Edited by Amy Oden. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 59.

[5] Pohl, Christine. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian tradition. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI. 75.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Come and take Your place in the center of my heart.

I have had a rough past week. Missed expectations are some of the most difficult things to deal with. Why is it that we set our sights on something so quick and so fierce? It is my personality that when i find something i want, i will go after it until i acquire it. There are not that many things that come into my life like this, for i have curbed my appetite to accommodate my personality. The hardest things i have found in my life are when the things i desire are just not able to be fully realized. No matter how hard i try or what i do, there is no way i can make this happen. I set my expectation so high, only to have it ultimately crushed. it does not happen that often, but when it does it sends me into a tailspin. The gnawing in my stomach only leaves me for moments at a time. The time i remember the most vivid was when i realized I had to leave my church i served at 4 years and had attended for 18. I wanted it to work and i wanted to stay so ad, yet i knew the Lord was calling me on. There was nothing could do to make it better or make it work, for the Lord had clearly spoken. Well, i find myself in that place of missed expectation again. It doesn't get better with experience... Then I hear that still small voice saying that only He can fill the whole in my heart. It doesn't make it easier or even take the pain away, but reminds me that He is still there. The process sucks, but He has had me the whole time and He will see me through it. Missed expectations can be life's biggest signs pointing to God's ultimate provision; i just need to follow the sign.


Monday, March 2, 2009

New layout

I changed everything up, but i am just not sure what i feel about it. I may just start from scratch with name and all. I like the name "restoring Eden" or maybe "the ever advancing Kingdom". i am just not sure yet.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Sound Man's Life

As i sit in Estes Chapel i am reflecting on the role of the sound man in worship. He is the person no one ever sees except when they make a mistake or worse, when they have not done anything. They are usually the first person in the room and normally the last person to leave. it seems that the times when they participate in the services is few and far between, yet they know that their father is smiling down on them and even they may not be "entering in", they are serving the body far more than anyone ever thinks. I like to think that when the Lord comes in glory, they will be the ones turning up the volume knob so all of heaven and earth will be able to hear it. they will be the announcers of the Lord. though the job is less than flattering here on earth, it will all be worth it someday. so here is to a sound man who needs to go because he is facilitating worship in about three minutes amen and be blessed

this is reality You are coming to reign on the earth, and the increase of Your government will know no end!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

All in a nights work or a tale of three places or "my kind of people"

So, i feel this was too pointed, so i took it down. Please stop by again sometime and i will have something for you to actually read. blessings,

This is reality, You are coming to reign on the earth, and the increase of Your government will know no end!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Still Coming

The blog is still coming, don't worry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Israel and the rest of the year

I will be posting pictures and details from my trip very soon. the plan is also to start using this to express what i am learning from God, school, and life. so, hopefully more to come.....

this is reality You are coming to reign on the earth, and the increase of Your government will know no end!

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I am seminarian who is learning about God, myself and others.

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