June 27, 2013 #632

And He (Jesus) sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. Luke 9:52-53 (NRSV)

Everyone is Welcome Here.I have been reading the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. Rasheed the husband to the two main characters in the book, Mariam & Laila, has thrown a party in his home. During the meal an argument breaks out over a political issue. Loud voices leads to fist, which leads to the brandishing of knives. A lack of hospitality was shown by all involved. This week a comment was made by a Christian scholar that the showing of hospitality will be a key issue for churches in the next decade. In our Gospel text we see the tension between Jesus and the Samaritans with the Samaritans showing a lack of hospitality by not receiving Jesus. James and John are so upset they want the village destroyed! (see verse 54) Does the same thing happen in our churches today? Are our churches welcoming to all people? Let’s do a little rewriting of the text. Jesus entered the church but they did not receive Him because He was a conservative republican, or they did not receive Him because He was a liberal democrat. A case could be made that churches today are become less and less welcoming to those who hold different political views. Let’s do some more rewriting. Jesus tried to enter the church but they did not receive Him because of the steps He was unable to navigate because He was handicapped. Jesus entered the church but they really didn’t want Him there because He was mentally handicapped and His handicap made them feel uncomfortable. Sometimes the churches lack of welcome is because of physical barriers, other times its member’s attitudes either intentional or unintentional. Unfortunately, most churches act a lot like the Samaritans when it comes to welcoming those who are different from themselves. An important mission of the Christian church is to be a welcoming place for all. That vision is evident in the Marty Haugen hymn “All are Welcome”. I will close with the first verse. “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions. All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”