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Sunday, June 28, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 10:40–42
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” (NRSV)
Hospitality, on its surface, is not a foreign concept to the Church or its members. It seems fairly easy to make others feel welcome and like they belong if we decorate the sanctuary, plan lively hymns, have friendly ushers, and offer coffee and donuts after worship. However, as we are all very aware during these past two months, the Church is not limited to a building, and nor should hospitality be. Our Christian discipleship truly begins when we put down our hymn books and close the ornate doors and go about our other daily routines.
So how have we expressed our hospitality to strangers over the past eight weeks when we were asked to stay at home and physically distance ourselves from one another? If we follow Christ’s words in today’s scripture, it shouldn’t have been that difficult. Because as Jesus says, whoever we encounter, encounters Jesus. So how have we been sharing Christ with others during a time that not only included a pandemic, but uprisings and calls for justice in the streets for our Black sisters and brothers.
I can say it’s been difficult for me to be hospitable in the way I’m used to. I’m a “Martha” through and through, and while I have been present to strangers and familiar faces through the Social Service Center’s curbside services these past eight weeks, I have had to conjure up the “Mary” within me as I learn to be a better white ally, which will be a lifelong journey. It is time for me to listen, learn, and engage in uncomfortable conversations to about my white privilege to be a better disciple and a better ally.
So we must ask ourselves, what image of Christ are we introducing to others? Today’s scripture reminds us our hearts and actions must be steadfast—whether we meet strangers who have experienced centuries of oppression and systemic racism, or they’re our lifelong family and friends who may incite divisive conversations when you assert that Black Lives Matter.
Loving Christ, let us follow your call to bring forward the same hospitality you offer and ask for in return. Let us remember your call to lift up those who have been oppressed and ostracized, and to be true disciples beyond the Church doors. Amen.
Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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