The church building is full with activity during the evenings this week with Vacation Bible School. The theme, “Give and receive God’s great love,” is a nice continuation of our worship focus for the last three weeks during this portion of the Twelve Scriptures Project. As has been alluded to in worship, love can be an incredibly broad, general, even generic, idea. During VBS love has been talked about specifically as extending hospitality.
The primary symbol of this hospitality is a canvas tent on the platform in the sanctuary. Each evening the tent is a scene of hospitality from a dramatized Bible story: Abraham and Sarah’s welcome of the three visitors in Genesis 18; the inn where the Samaritan takes the injured man he finds by the side of the road in Jesus’ parable on neighborliness; Zacchaeus’ house where Jesus invites himself over for a meal. Hospitality is a simple act of extending a welcome that often leads to a transformation, or an enrichment, of all parties involved.
Hospitality contains the word hospital – which may or may not always be a hospitable place. At our Central District meeting in Madison last month a hospital chaplain reflected on her work and how the hospital has come to fill a role that church buildings used to in an earlier time. Hospitals are open 24 hours a day, are the place people go in emergencies, and accept people who comes through their doors no matter what their condition. She spoke of her vocation as one of hospitality. A hospital at its best is a living laboratory of hospitality, and those who work there – many of you! – are practitioners of a generous hospitality. The church could learn a thing or two from this.
Christian love, human love, in action looks like hospitality. We who have been radically welcomed by God open our lives as a space of welcome for those who pass our way.