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Radical Hospitality

December 15, 2018

I cannot even begin to fully describe the hospitality shown by the CREDO (Latin for I believe) Retreat I attended that was put on by the Board of Pensions. This picture is from our opening worship on November 28th. The Episcopal Conference Center was also incredibly hospitable to the participants in this retreat.

The week I spent at CREDO was a much needed retreat for this Padre. I was also incredibly thankful that my sweet Denise was able to be with my Dad at the same time I was on the retreat. She and a number of folks from Dad’s church helped him move from the two-bedroom apartment where Mom had spent her last days to a one bedroom down the hall. That is a sort of hospitality you can’t put a price tag on.

The friendships I made during that week with fellow pastors who were at a similar stage in ministry (there was more of our careers behind us than before us… but we aren’t old, we are just well seasoned!) were invaluable. To spend the time up to and including the First Sunday in Advent was truly a blessing. Hospitality at its finest!

The greeting and welcome we received were not exactly what John the Baptist gave to the religious leaders of his day. That, my friends is a massive understatement! John greeted those who were coming forth for his baptism with fire and brimstone. John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Luke 3:7)

John wasn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy welcome sort of fellow. But he had a reason for being so abrupt. The state of affairs in the religious world of his day was not good. The religious elite were in bed with the Empire (sound familiar?) and the common folks were taking scraps from the table if they were lucky. That was the world John the Baptist and Jesus were born into. And they were far from being the religious power and elite of their day.

The brood of Vipers were the ones who were supposed to care for the people and lead them as the people of God. The religious leaders had failed miserably at their duties. Instead of being assured of the love of their Creator, they were pawns of the Empire.

Sadly the same story is told today… too many so-called christians (lower case is intentional as you well know if you have hung out here for some time) have sold their souls to the Empire and trampled over the very ones Jesus calls us to serve with all of our being.

John the Baptist echoed the teachings of his cousin Jesus in the reading from Luke. “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”  (Luke 3:11-14)

Dear reader, this is the radical Hospitality we are called to offer! In the words of Tony Campolo: Jesus never says to the poor: “come find the church,” but he says to those in the church: “go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned.”

This indeed is the message of Advent and Christmas. It is the message Jesus challenges us with 365 a year. For what we do or do not do in His name, we do or do not do to or for him. That is, indeed, the radical Hospitality we are called to offer. May the Spirit challenge and guide us to do so every day.

  1. A good and timely word for this season of intense consumerism. I see evidence of you being “well seasoned” in Word and Spirit, dear friend. And I love that way of looking at physical (and hopefully spiritual) maturity. Thank you, Michael! 😊❤

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