Journey with John
There are many reasons worship speaks to me. For a few moments, we share the presence of God among us. We release our fears to unite in hopeful prayer, joining in quiet conversation with our Creator. We sing our joy in the sacred songs of the ages that also bring healing. We pause to let the scripture speak to our deepest need where we are challenged to serve. We reflect on the life of Jesus who encourages, blesses and welcomes us! There is another moment in worship that I truly love. I call it the “Hug & Howdy Time” when people of all ages and backgrounds surrender their pew to WELCOME those around them in the love of Christ! It is hospitality at its finest. You know, it is love on the loose! I must admit that I take my seat fairly quickly, so I can observe the lovely chaos for a moment. It warms my heart to see the delight you take in greeting life-long friends, strangers present for the first time, children who are learning that hugs and high-fives are OK in church, seniors who are respected and revered. There is a lovely spiritual blindness that takes possession as people are received in Christ-like love regardless of race, culture, age, education, economics or politics. It is a lovely picture of grace and I am certain God smiles on us each time we so engage, for our God is the God of hospitality.
Anytime we practice hospitality, we follow in the steps of our lavishly hospitable God. God has this wonderful Open Door policy in the church – ALL are invited, ALL ages are respected, ALL are served, ALL are challenged to share. Federated Church has been an open door for seventy years in this community. How your warm greeting must bring joy to the Almighty! I must lift up in grateful thanks a couple of places where the gift of your hospitality – your love let loose – is making a difference. For years now, you have reached out with gracious love to children at risk through the Heads Up ministry. These children you serve often have a difficult home life where love is not always a priority, but they know when they come to you, they will be affirmed, encouraged, blessed. Bravo! More recently, a group of you have opened your hearts to Chinese Scholars who are in our country for only a short time. They are not Christian, they have a different governing system, cultures are vastly different and language is a barrier. But, you have welcomed them with open arms and have built here a safe retreat for them to ask questions and receive helpful responses. Bravo! I could go on and on about your gifts of hospitality. I’m sure Christ sings at your efforts. Seventy years of welcoming, 70 years of serving, 70 years of letting loose your love. BRAVO, Federated Church!