Be our guest

Acts 9:19-25
Whenever I tell my call story, I mention the NOMADS. These are a group of United Methodist retirees who travel around the country in their RVs. They pack tools to help provide volunteer labor for churches and organizations. My experience with them contributed to my becoming a nomad of sorts. We Methodist pastors move around, as you know.

In my pastoral ministry, I’ve come to know many people. Most of those people have been long-time members of the congregations I’ve served. Others, though, in one way or another, were only passing through. I don’t mean they had a scheduled evacuation plan. But they were like my NOMADS friends. And those people have taught me to appreciate the seasons of friendship God offers to us.

My wife says she’s a little jealous of people who have lifelong friends. She grew up moving around quite a bit. If you ask her where she’s from, she’ll tell you, “everywhere and nowhere.” She’s been the passing-through friend we’re thinking of all her life. Of course, I didn’t help her cause all that much.

Our cultural moment is challenging our friendships. We expected new technology to reinforce the things we do that are important to us. Instead, some of it has impaired certain relational abilities. And throw in with that the global experience of the last two years. If we’re paying attention, it’s not hard to recognize our relational deficits.

If we’re struggling in our relationships with people we already know and have known for some time, think about the nomads of our lives. What do we have left to give them?

I recognize this may sound like a strange conversation. But it’s worth having because of something important to our Christian faith. Hospitality. When the apostle Paul had his first experience with Christ, he stayed with the disciples in Damascus. As nervous as we can all assume they were, they fed him. They gave him a place to sleep and regain his strength. After meeting Jesus, Paul’s ministry begins in the hospitality of those disciples.

Hospitality is a topic every church should prayerfully and intentionally consider. Our hospitality speaks much to our belief in the incarnation of Jesus.

As churches, we have many opportunities to extend hospitality to those who won’t be with us for long. Their jobs may take them to other places beyond our care. As they enter into a new season of life it may be better for them to be someplace else. So, while they are with us, they are God’s gift to us. No matter how long their stay.

Yes, they contribute to our lives in many ways. But they’re our guests. They are with us. God allows us to be a part of what the Lord has planned for them next by taking care of them now.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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