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Hospitality

August 27, 2016

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Has it really been a year? Where has the time flown? Facebook has been reminding me of anniversary events and the past year’s events have  been especially poignant! A year ago today, we drove into Estes Park and spent the night at the Stanley Hotel before taking possession of our Condo. No, we didn’t see any ghosts at the Stanley!

Over the past year, we have simply been blown away by the hospitality of Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies (PCCR), Estes Park, Estes Park Sunrise Rotary, Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center (I am on the Committee), Colorado Presbyterian Pilgrimage, and the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks! We have jumped right in and are very involved in our new hometown.

The first picture is from our first trip to Estes Park in June, 2015. Trail Ridge Road had been open for about a week when two members of the Pastor Nominating Committee drove us up to the Alpine Visitor’s Center about 36 hours after we had flown in from sea level! The second picture is from my installation service in September… surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses! Included in the service was my dear friend and mentor Carl Andrews (retired Chaplain, Colonel, USAF), Kim Vanbrimmer (a dear friend of both Denise and mine who preached at the Installation Service), and Ruling Elders and Deacons from PCCR, along with the installation commission from Plains and Peaks Presbytery.

Hospitality has continued to be a theme as we made our way through the first year in Estes Park. From the “Women’s Welcome to Winter” that our Deacons put together to bless Denise with cold weather gear to survive the first winter to intentional invitations to hike in Rocky and learn more about the park and our new home; we were continually blessed by the hospitality of this community.

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At the end of June (yes, June) with snow still on the ground, two very dear friends and parishioners took us on a hike in the  Alpine Tundra where we crossed some snowfields and saw Rocky Mountain Bull Elks and amazing wildflowers. Is the Padre waxing on a bit? You betcha! We love it here and the hospitality that continues to be revealed by our community and growing number of friends is simply overwhelming!

And so, this finally brings your Padre to the scripture readings for tomorrow! The readings from Hebrews and Luke are all about hospitality. So let’s first look at the Hebrews passage… “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)

At the end of Hebrews 12 (verse 29) the writer leaves us with these words: “Our God is a consuming fire.” Wow! Yet, in the next chapter, the writer begins with something other than a consuming fire. Let mutual love continue! Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it!

This begins a soliloquy from the writer about being content AND looking to others as your sisters and brothers. People in prison? Relate to them as though you were right there with them. Tortured? You are with them and being tortured as well… they are your sister… your brother! Marriage? Respect and honor to all couples! Money? If that is your objective above your fellow human beings, you are missing the point! And, finally, Jesus is the same yesterday and today… “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (verse 16)

Does this sound different from what we see far too often today? If you don’t think so, WAKE UP! Hatred! Misogyny! Bigotry! Racism! That is what is being screamed from the depths of human ignorance! Money? Worship it! Screw your neighbor to promote yourself! Where do these comments come from? Sadly, they come from many who call themselves christians (lower case intentional as always)!

If angels showed up at certain political rallies today, they would be beaten, cursed, shouted down, and quite possibly killed! Zero hospitality! Plenty of hate! Ignorance and fear rule the day! Is that what Jesus calls us to be and do? In a word? NO! That is where the parable from Luke comes in to play.

Jesus talked about a banquet where people were automatically assuming the place of honor at the feast. As a young Chaplain in the Air Force, I made that mistake once. Asked to provide the opening prayer for a banquet, I assumed that I would be sitting at the head table. When I went to the head table, I saw that my name was not on a place card. The Lieutenant in charge of protocol showed me where my name card was. It was at table three! My boss who outranked me was also attending the banquet and he was afforded the place of honor due his rank. Never again did I make that mistake. In fact, at a banquet much later in my career (I was a Lieutenant Colonel by then) I willingly chose the lower ranking table. The Commander asked me to come up and sit at the head table when he realized that name cards were not properly placed at the right tables.

I have never forgotten those two events nor the impact they had on my faith journey. When I read the words of Jesus in Luke 14:11, I see the young Chaplain and remember the lesson of protocol from long ago: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Dear reader, how do you show hospitality? Is it based upon rank or position? If it is, you are sadly mistaken. Denise and I were shown great hospitality by a homeless man named James in a tent city in Mobile, Alabama on Thanksgiving, 2014 (I Met Jesus in Tent City). We brought he and the tent city dwellers boxed meals for dinner. He showed us great hospitality, and in turn, we both believe we met Jesus in Tent City!

Do you treat people with a quid-pro-quo attitude? Do you treat people based upon what you think you might get from them in return? Or do you rather look to others as sisters and brothers! True hospitality does not insist on a return for the “investment”… rather it reaches out with the love of Christ and doesn’t expect return!

Are you willing to share the hospitality of Christ with others? Are you willing to look at others as your true sisters and brothers? Are you willing to do what Jesus calls us to be and do? If you are, you may be surprised at who shows up at your table!

4 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on ericspearsblog.

  2. A great reflection Michael, and happy anniversary!

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  1. Hospitality | ericspearsblog

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