In the book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Richard Schnase lists Radical Hospitality as the first practice. He describes radical hospitality as “the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ.” (P.11)
Recently Blossom Hill was given the opportunity to practice radical hospitality. After giving a rousingly moving sermon (in my humble opinion) about Godly wisdom and how Godly wisdom includes reaching out and caring for the “least of these,” I exited the sanctuary in order to get in position to greet people when I was greeted by a sermon illustration, David. I remember saying to myself, “Okay God, we can do this.”
David was, apparently, a homeless man who appeared in the lobby of the church. After I asked him how I could help him, he expressed the desire to talk to someone. I realized people were beginning to exit the sanctuary, so I invited him to have a seat and I would get an elder to talk with him.
What I want to say is how proud (in a good way, I hope) I am of the response of Blossom Hill. It was reassuring to watch a number of Blossom Hill members come together and do their part to meet the needs of David.
As I reflected on the incident, I learned what Radical Hospitality looks like.
Now, we cannot do all things for all people all the time, BUT we can each do a part. It seems that David wanted/needed to get to Elkton, MD. Now, no one at Blossom Hill had plans to go to Elkton, yet we were able to feed him, and give him a ride to Willow Street where he could find a ride to go the rest of the way.
I think that sometimes we have an “all or nothing” thinking about serving and caring for others. Yet, this incident demonstrated how each person can take a part- fixing a meal, talking to him, giving him a ride and praying for him- and David experienced Jesus in the flesh and we were blessed by an angel unaware or, possibly, Jesus in the flesh.
I am reminded of our theme for this year, Provoke to Love. Love, at Blossom Hill, happens in many ways. Whether we care for the strangers in our midst or pray for one another or serve at the winter women’s shelter, love is provoked.
My prayer for us is that God continues to provoke us with opportunities to be and do love for all of God’s creation. We are not going to do it perfectly. There will be times where previous commitments will get in the way. There will also be times where our circumstances may limit our ability to participate. However, I believe that like Jesus was able to feed over 5000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread, if we are willing to do our small part- God’s perfect love will be realized and the Kin’ dom is a little nearer.