Do you remember the first few people who welcomed you at Faith? How about at your first work place or your school? Sometimes that welcome has a lasting impact on us.
There is nothing like feeling welcomed. When I enter someone else’s place it makes all the difference if the welcome is warm. When I enter another church it changes everything if there is a warm welcome or not. When others come to Faith I expect them to get a warm welcome from all of us who consider this home.
The firstcomers at our small group love to welcome those who come later and there is a genuine joy expressed at being welcomed into a group. When a refugee family spent the afternoon eating and sharing with us there was a sense of inclusion at having an open door and an open table being offered. I notice even at the youth group that the welcome once you’re in the door makes all the difference.
Rick Warren, in his book Better Together (p. 48), has gathered several verses in different versions which give us the importance of hospitality for the Christian who is following Jesus.
“Open your homes to each other without complaining.” I Peter 4:9 (TEV) Also, Isaiah 58:6-9; Luke 14:12-14.
Warren adds, “For some, hospitality is as natural as breathing. For others, the practice must be acquired. For all, the gift must be nurtured.”
He declares the difference between entertaining and showing hospitality. “Entertaining declares, ‘This is mine – these rooms, these adornments. Look, please, and admire.’ Hospitality whispers, ‘What is mine is yours’ (Acts 2:44).
As followers of Jesus the neighbourhood in which he has placed us is our open door to reach out and demonstrate hospitality. Filling our schedules with activities, not chosen purposefully to connect with others, will short-circuit our chances to open our hearts and open our doors.
You can’t show hospitality to everyone but you can show welcome to a few.
The same happens when we gather for services, banquet or events. You can’t invest a significant welcome for everyone but you can with those around you. Keep looking and reaching out.
What did you feel like when you entered a place of worship and no one welcomed you? So, who have you welcomed into fellowship lately? How can you use your hospitality in the weeks to come?