From the Minister - Entertaining Strangers For Sunday

From the Minister - Entertaining Strangers
For Sunday, September 1, 2013 - Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
She showed up without a reservation, as most of God’s emissaries do. Clutching two plastic shopping bags, a scattered look in her eyes, she said quickly, “I was sent by Father Such-and-So. He gave me money and told me to come here.” Rats. The good Father had beat me to it—I, too, would have liked to suggest another ‘here.’ I wanted to say, this isn’t a shelter. I wanted to say, one of the rules in life is you don’t show up unknown at someone’s door and expect to be taken in. Yet here she was. Late at
night. Alone.
I like the idea that “entertaining strangers” might bring “angels unaware” into our lives; I just don’t care for the practice. It’s truly lovely, that God sends us the stranger, the interruption, as gift. But what to do with my love of order and stillness, living within my resources, keeping a respectable distance from disruptions? The rest of you, I imagine, are so much better at the Jesus life. Right away you would spot the angel at your door, right away you would know that the unoccupied bed in your house is meant for her. You surely would have ushered in the angel with curiosity and delight, but I felt only
trepidation as she walked through the door.
Have you noticed that scripture doesn’t spend a lot of time telling us how to feel as we live as a new creation? It simply says, here’s what you do: entertain strangers, put yourself in their skin, walk in their shoes—prisoners, too, and people being tortured, the whole of suffering humanity. And it says, don’t try this alone. Yoke yourself to Jesus and to one another. I keep forgetting that part—that the “you” in scripture is more often plural than singular.
I keep forgetting that living the Jesus life on my own isn’t difficult. It’s impossible. Alone, I stumble. Alone, I overthink and overdo. Only together will we freely, even joyfully, have the heart to meet the angels that come, whatever their distressing disguises. Only together will we become whole.
By: Kayla McClurg inward/outward: a project of the church of the savior (1640 Columbia Rd. NW Washington, DC 20009)
I have noticed lately that building a church is a little like entertaining strangers. It doesn't fit nicely into a
predetermined timeline. It demands that we rethink our priorities and make adjustments. It upsets our expectation of how life should be orderly and predictable.
As we begin a new season of the church, it almost feels like we are starting over in our building project.
Now I have no doubt that we will build our church hall. It will not be exactly as we planned, and we don't know for sure exactly when it will be done. I am convinced that we will be pushed out of comfort zones and will learn much about patience and faith.
One of the directions my thought has taken me is to think about the verbs we use. We have talked about
"building" our church, as in the new church Hall. That is important and it is a commitment we have made to our congregation.
I also want us to think intentionally about "being" the church, as in how we all practice our faith and our
intention collectively and individually each day in worship, reflection and action. And I would like us to think about "growing" our church. I mean sharing the blessing and gift we receive from our church with others who might have a need for belonging, and inspiration, and a place to serve.
To this end I am going to focus on themes this fall in both sermons and study opportunities.
The first theme is "How then shall We Live?" What is the essence of the "good" life and how can we be more
in tune with the beauty in our lives and more intentional about how we live.
The second is "The spiritual practice of dying well". How honoring and embracing the reality of death might
help us to live more fully. Watch for these themes and opportunities in the weeks ahead. When we recover the focus on "being' the church we will remember that our building serves our common life, it does not become our common life.
Then our new church hall can be part of the gift that we can use and share with our wider community.
Looking forward to a Fall that is filled with blessing, Paul

Grace United Church