Hospitality – Freeing People to Receive, Share Jesus

Post a Comment » Written on June 26th, 2008     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

GREEN LAKE, WI (June 26, 2008) – Extending authentic hospitality to people who consider themselves outcasts will free them to receive and then share the love of Jesus,  Debbie Blue told the gathering during this morning’s worship service at the 123rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Drawing from the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well, the executive minister of the Department of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice, shared briefly from her own life as an example of what so many have experienced.

“This woman’s story was much like my story,” Blue said. The painful memory of a lost friendship and the scorn of a community when she was 10 years old remains with her.

BlueBlue recalled that her family was the first black family to move into a white neighborhood. One day, she and her best friend were playing as they always did when suddenly the girl pulled back. “I can’t touch you,” the girl explained. She feared Blue’s skin color would rub off on her.

The girl’s remarks stained Blue, however, making her feel like something was wrong with her – as if “untouchable.”

Jesus surprised the woman at the well, who was amazed that a Jewish man would be passing through Samaria, that he would talk to her and ask for water. Ironically, although it was Jesus who initially asked for water, it was he who extended hospitality.

“He created space for the woman,” Blue said. He offered her something that he had. That was the gift of living water.

The hospitality offered by Jesus was different than most people think of hospitality, Blue said before sharing about different types of hospitality:
•    Service or social hospitality is the kind that is pleasant and polite, most identified with Southern hospitality.
•    Entertaining hospitality extends warm welcome to come into someone’s home for dinner.
•    Market hospitality offers consumers the opportunity to purchase items so people can put on the façade of who we want others to think we are.
•    Diversity hospitality welcomes people who are different. “But to what end?” Blue asked. Is the welcome only so far until it becomes uncomfortable when different groups must work together.

Blue said Jesus showed a greater form of hospitality. “Faithful hospitality … aims for communion with God and one another. It’s a hospitality that recognizes a stranger’s worth.”

When the woman’s worth was recognized, she was able to give in to Jesus, give up her shame, and give out what she had experienced, Blue said. Remarkably, the woman went back to the same people who shamed her and proclaimed she had met someone who might be the messiah.

“Why would they listen to her?” Blue asked. “This woman had to have something visible on the outside of what was going on in the inside.” They listened when they saw the difference.

Blue asked the gathering, “Are we in truthful hospitality with one another?”

She acknowledged such living is difficult, especially because it means entering into the world of others as Jesus did and not waiting for them to enter ours. “It means we run right into the chaos if that’s what it takes. How many of you are ready to be involved in the mess of things?”

Amid the mess is the place of transformation, however. “It’s in those places, those seasons of discomfort God is at work in big ways,” she declared.

“We’re on the road here,” Blue said of the Covenant. “Every time I see it, I see us moving toward being the people God has called us to be.”

Following Blue’s sermon, the gathering honored the lives of Covenant pastors, missionaries, and spouses who died since the last Annual Meeting, The service ended with communion.

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