One of the many things I love about the local church is that it is family. The older I get the more I realize that being part of this family is very important, being connected as part of the whole is not just an ideal concept for me but something to be strived for. I want to be connected to the local church in every way possible. Yet, knowing this doesn’t make it easy for me to connect with people in our congregation for a myriad of reasons, geographical location being a major factor. Now, you need to know that Linda and I love the people who are part of First Baptist Church in Little Falls, New York. That’s a mouthful, but it is the truth. We really enjoy being back in Upstate New York and love the worship and fellowship we have every Sunday. That being said, it is a long drive from Rome, New York which makes the term “local church” a somewhat less accurate term. But I have known people who travel up to 50 miles one way in order to be part of a morning worship service in what they call their local church.
While living in the West, Linda and I saw this as a common occurrence as ranchers would travel 50 miles each Sunday in order to be part of the fellowship of their local church. They braved the elements no matter the conditions to get into Lewistown, Montana bringing with them extra food and clothing, and of course some sort of firearm. You never knew how bad the weather would get and it was always wise to prepare for the worse just in case the snow blew sideways. But when they arrived in town their first desire was for fellowship with the saints through the worship service and Sunday School. After service many of the ranchers would be invited to the homes of other members of the body of Christ in order extend that fellowship through hospitality. One thing you could count on in the West, meat was on the menu along with a side order of biscuits and beans. During the winter it was an added pleasure to walk into a home and be greeted by a warm woodstove, a cup of coffee, and a pleasant conversation about how God has blessed us in so many ways.
Now, I am not writing this to solicit a home cooked meal, or a place to get out of the elements on Sunday when the snow starts blowing through the valley. As we begin our evening fellowship hour, Linda and I stay at the Salisbury House between services and either Linda or Janae make a meal. They would be waiting a long time for me to make a meal, considering the only thing I really know how to make is reservations at the nearest restaurant.
So what is my take away? In the climate caused by Covid-19 we still need to demonstrate to those around us hospitality, especially to the body of Christ. Here are some Scriptures that challenge us to show that needed hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2—“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
1Peter 4:9—“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Romans 12:13—“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Titus 1:8—“But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”
Mark 9:41—“For truly, I say to you, whoever give you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”
Hebrews 13:16—“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
As you can see, there is no shortage of Biblical references that either speak directly to the topic of hospitality or allude to it. And what is extremely interesting is that there are no qualifiers as to when you should show hospitality. God’s Word doesn’t say show hospitality except when there is a pandemic. It doesn’t tell the wealthy only to show hospitality or those who have just a little extra during the harvest season. NO—no qualifiers. The Word just says, show hospitality.
Now, I am not writing this to throw a guilt trip your way, but I may be challenging you to move out of your comfort zone. Truth be told, I am a person of routine and I like my routines, so to talk about taking a concerted effort to show hospitality that takes me out of my routine is… well, it is just plain uncomfortable for me. Fortunately for me I have a wife who would quote Connie Frasier by saying, “Suck it up Buttercup!” And I would, as they say, get with the program.
My point is, that as we move into the cold weather season and the Bar-B-que pit is put on hold, there is still a need to show hospitality. In most church settings there are strangers among us but it doesn’t have to be that way. Strangers can become dear friends after just one meal together. A show of kindness, a gift in the right direction for the right reasons is all that it might take in order to warm a heart and bring cheer to the soul. Would you like your joy to be full today? Show hospitality—you will not be disappointed. I have never known a time when I have not received the bigger blessing and a fuller measure of joy than when I tried to demonstrate hospitality. Oh, for the joy of it all!!!
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy in Jesus!