Fourth Sunday of Easter
In today's lessons we read how the witness of the church extends beyond the original followers of Jesus - lives are transformed!
The Lectionary readings are John 10:1-10 Psalm 23 1 Peter 2:19-25 Acts 2:42-47
Thornton United Methodist Church
I would like to begin by sharing the first words of Jimmy our guide when we loaded the bus outside the airport. These words will always stick with me and I use them quite often within the church. “Welcome home friend”. He treated us as family the entire time we were together. Don’t we do that with one another, especially while in church on Sunday mornings because we are like minded and united while inside those walls. Focused on Jesus. Since we are there to Worship the Trinity, we are home too! So Welcome Home Friend. And please remember that we as Christians are always on our individual trip through the Holy Land no matter where we are physically living.
Hospitality is not just giving a good meal. God showed true hospitality when he gave us Jesus because he provided us protection. Because of this protection, we can one day spend eternity in heaven. If we truly belong to Jesus we will recognize him and follow him. God never said this would be easy. In fact, he said that the righteous would suffer, but because of endurance through this short time of suffering here on earth, the righteous will be ultimately rewarded in eternity.
When someone new walks through the doors of God’s church, and no, I don’t mean a building, I mean when curiosity strikes or even before it strikes, of what Jesus has to offer them, it is our job to be hospitable. We forget this so many times and instead pass judgement without meaning to. When someone begins to ask questions, we need to take the time to listen and answer with our heart full of Jesus. We should not begin by telling them that if you don’t live this way that you are going to burn in hell. After all, would that encourage you to begin attending church when you were a new Christian or before you were a Christian. Instead we need to nurture or protect that relationship that has begun.
I went to the Palestinian family dinner on the second night in Bethlehem. I believe it was a great way to begin the trip, spending time with people who live on the land we were visiting with no desire to ever leave even with the turmoil the holy land is going through. Discussions around the table gave some insight to how alike and unlike our lives are. One thing that was very dominate when I looked around in Israel was the genuine happiness, passion, or dedication you could see in the eyes of those living there. One thing that is for sure is that regardless of their faith, it seemed unwavering. No matter what is going on around them they stilled believed and were not afraid to openly show their faith whether it be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and so on. We could learn something here. So many of us teeter on the fence of when and where to let Jesus’ light shine through us. It should be shining through us all the time. The areas we visited, you could see this faith shining through regardless of any words. It doesn’t always take words to let your love for Jesus be visible.
You don’t just walk through the door of a job interview and say I am your best option, here are my skills, I want to make this much money, and have this much time off, do you? Instead you make small talk. Being a good match for a job is about so much more then what is on paper. It is about you as a person. Will you work well with the people you will be working with? Hmmm, doesn’t that sound familiar to someone looking for a church to attend regularly. It is our job to make them feel genuinely welcome in God’s church. After all our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
May God Bless you on your trip through the Holy Land, Bridget