Homily “You’re Welcome”

Matthew 10:40-42            (NIV)

40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

41 Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.

42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

HOMILY  —    YOU’RE WELCOME

 

Everyone into the pool—

Y’all Come Back Now

There’s Always Room for One More

Grab a chair and join us

Come sit by me

Come on in and make yourself at home

These words do wonders for the soul

Wanted

Included

Welcome

Important

Valued

Significant

Debbie and I often will tell someone… come by and see us if you are out and about – just drop in.. We would love to have you visit…

Then, when someone finally takes us up on it, we don’t answer the doorbell… forgetting our open invitation to our friend.

I am sure it didn’t make our friend feel welcome not having someone answer the door.

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Hospitality in ancient times involved much more than just having a guest visit and offering them a drink…

Jewish Hospitality

In Judaism, showing hospitality (hakhnasat orchim) to guests is considered a mitzvah. (commandment)

When one knows of strangers who are hungry or need a place to relax, it becomes a legal obligation.

Some rabbis consider hakhnasat orchim (literally the “bringing in of strangers”) to be a part of gemilut hasadim (giving of loving kindness).

The first time hospitality is displayed in the Torah

The Torah, or Jewish Written Law, consists of the five books of the Hebrew Bible – known more commonly to non-Jews as the “Old Testament” happens when Abraham invites the three wanderers from Mamre to relax while he brings them water and food (Gen. 18:1-5).

Also the TalmudThe Oral Law is a legal commentary on the Torah, explaining how its commandments are to be carried out.

Common sense suggests that some sort of oral tradition was always needed to accompany the Written Law, because the Torah alone, even with its 613 commandments, is an insufficient guide to Jewish life.

teaches that one’s house should always be welcoming and open to strangers.

In the Torah it affirms that Abraham always kept all four sides of his tent open, for guests to easily enter.

The opening of one’s doors is why at the Seder on Passover an invitation is delivered to the hungry and needy.

It is read in the Hagadah, “Whosoever is in need let him come and eat” (Ta’anit 20b).

During the Middle Ages the custom arose      of providing a guest house (bet     hakhnasat orehim) for the poor; this   would later be called hekdesh (“sanctuary”).

THE GUEST has obligations too

Be grateful for labors of hosts

Recite additional blessing

Leave some food on plate

Not impose on host – so not staying more than three days…

“On the day a guest arrives, a calf is slaughtered in his honor; the next day, a sheep, the third day, a fowl, and on the fourth day, he is served just beans” (23:3).

Historical practice

In ancient cultures hospitality involved    welcoming the stranger and offering him    food, shelter, and safety.[7]

Strangers to town would wait near the well or town center until offered a place to stay and food.

Both individuals AND Towns were obligated to offer hospitality to a stranger….

 

hospitality meant not ONLY welcoming   the individual stranger – but it was a      show of respect for and   welcome of  stranger’s family and         community from which he came.

Jesus told the disciples that he was        sending them into the world as envoys   of his ministry and of himself. Representatives of his ministry…

.

So, for someone to welcome them, they  welcomed Jesus… and in welcoming Jesus, they welcomed God

Paul, later in his letters to the Romans emphasizes the importance of  Hospitality…

Hebrews 13:2   (NIV)

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels  without knowing it.

 

Greek Word for

Hospitality –

PHIOXENIA – love of stranger

XENOPHOBIA – Fear of Stranger

 

In this modern world… how do we understand HOSPITALITY – WELCOME?

How do we define Hospitality? WELCOME

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The Dictionary defines Hospitality as

  • the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
  • Warm and cordial acceptance
  • GLADLY received… not just accepted

What a simple gesture:

Welcome

Handshake

Hug

Smile

But Jesus seems to be telling us that a simple greeting is also a profoundly spiritual act.

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

In greeting one another, it is as if we are greeting Jesus, himself. Powerful.

Jesus calls for hospitality that has no boundary or limit; where a welcome is extended not in the expectation of social gain, but for its own reward.

Where no-one remains excluded and unwelcome.

 

Here Jesus was SENDING out the disciples –

WHY was the topic of Hospitality and Welcome mentioned to them?

WHY does the word WELCOME occur no less than six times

WHY is Jesus putting so much emphasis on a Jewish Law that was in the original TORAH

It was the disciples who would be RECEIVING hospitality and welcome..

Well, Jesus was putting a fine point on it..so to speak…

Possibly he wanted the disciples to fully understand their role as representing him…

If you are not welcomed –                                I am not welcomed..

and you do not stay…                                              but move on.

The disciples were being sent out…     but they didn’t have the entire responsibility of enlightening the world—

The world had a role to play                            in this ministry too…

  • For the ministry to spread –
  • For good news to travel
  • For lives to be changed..

FIRST a stranger had to be welcomed…

Otherwise – they were to MOVE ON

 

SO – what does this tell the modern  believer to do?

Like the original 12, we are called to share the good news –

This has taken the form of

Pamphlets

TV Evangelism

Door to Door Visits

Commercial Media

Even though these are effective methods for sharing information…

Do they fulfill the mission we have been given?

Having information and understanding that information are not the same…

Having the information and accepting and taking in the information are not the same…

Just as the ancient world had to WELCOME the disciples and their good news….

It is the same today…

What would happen if we stopped expecting people to come to church on their own initiative

, and instead took seriously our calling to bring the gospel to them?

What would happen if we truly believed that we bear the presence of Christ to every person we encounter,  in every home, workplace,                           or neighborhood we enter?

What would happen if we saw every conversation as an opportunity to speak words of grace,

every interaction as an opportunity to embody Christ’s love for the neighbor?

 

There is a story of an interaction with a bagger at her local grocery store.

She had been talking with this woman off  and on for a year, and upon learning that    she no longer worked on Sundays,   invited her to come to her church,          to their casual, outdoor, come-as-you-        are service.

Much to my friend’s surprise, the woman responded by giving her a hug!

The bagger welcomed the stranger –                                                                           the news and the intent –

But if the bagger had rebuffed the invitation… the disciple/woman buying groceries – should just move on – and continue casting seeds…

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Our ministry as a disciple church, is to show extravagant hospitality –

By –

  1. Overtly welcoming guests into the  service…

Saying we are glad they came

Providing for their needs

Restrooms   coffee  bulletins

Having complete information in the bulletins to make them                       feel included.

Handicap accessibility  Hearing enhancements       LARGE PRINT

And continuing that HOSPITALITY AFTER the service

  1. Taking our hospitality outside these walls – Taking it To the Streets – Lutheran Family service –ESLanguage – Refugees – VETerans –
  1. Taking our hospitality home and into our workplace – how we deal with others – Making our community a more welcoming community –

We are called to show boundless hospitality – a welcome extended for its own reward – a welcome that includes ALL –                                            not just same thinkers….

All are welcome, all are welcome
in this place.