During the season of Pentecost we learn about the things that Jesus did in his ministry and with his disciples and how the Holy Spirit moves in the life and ministry of Jesus. As we learn about how the Holy Spirit moves in Jesus’ life and ministry we can see how the Holy Spirit moves in our own life and ministry.
Jesus has been busy — when the Gospel of Mark begins Jesus is constantly moving.
Jesus calls his disciples which includes a tax collector, he casts out demons and he does this on the Sabbath. Jesus reaches out to the leapers, the hurt, and the poor. Which means when he talks about the kingdom of God he talks about it in a way that no one has ever heard before – the kingdom of God includes everyone……period.
In the eyes of Jesus there is no difference in the way someone looks, acts, how much money someone has, who they are connected with, it doesn’t matter their sexuality, their history, their gender or race. All that matters is that they are a child of God and that includes everyone.
When someone says that they love everyone, that’s gracious hospitality, radical hospitality and then you have to live that out.
People are passionate about their beliefs. Many churches want to be welcoming but don’t know how to be welcoming.
Hospitality for most churches is being patient and gracious with new folks until they learn the way we do things. But Jesus offers another vision of hospitality that is about meeting people where they are, accepting any and all who are interested in God’s kingdom, and responding to need no matter who is asking or when or how they ask.
And that makes people mad.
You see we have this image of God, we have an understanding of who God is, and when someone comes in and changes that image of God then we become uncomfortable.
So when Jesus is showing this radical hospitality through his healing and teaching, when he gathers together with his disciples and with the crowds, the religious authorities, even Jesus’ own family – everyone begins to rebuke him.
You see, they have an idea of what Jesus should and should not be doing and he is not following that, instead of reaching out to everyone. Instead of preaching against certain lifestyles he is including everyone into the Kingdom of heaven they began to become upset.
That’s what we do right? We have an ideal of how things should happen, of who should be included and who should be left out — so the way that we do it in today’s society is we create rules. Not rules as to how we can help our neighbor – but how we judge our neighbor. We create rules on who can become a member in our church, who can get baptized, who can receive communion, who can get married, and who can belong.
When we see someone who does not follow our rules we begin to judge them and exclude them from the kingdom of God.
But from my perspective, it is because the love of God — we see how we should be treating our neighbor. It is through Jesus that we learn that God’s love and grace knows no boundaries and respects no laws that would keep that love from being shared with everyone.
So we can ask ourselves are we pushing the boundaries of what’s socially and religiously acceptable in order to reach more folks with the Good news of Gods radical, inclusive love?
I think that’s what most people in our world would like to see the church do.
A surprising fact for most of us in the church is that the fastest growing denomination in the church – is the NONE group – the group that claim they have no affiliation with any church. There are many theories of why this is true, but I believe part of the problem is the voice that calls for love, and grace and acceptance is not the loudest voice.
The message that people hear most is the loudest voice that calls for…..well it is not the love of God that you or I know. It is not the love of God that calls everyone to the table of the Lord.
So this summer, while you are out living in the beauty of God’s creation. Think about your faith, think about the love of God and get to know the message of the Gospel. So when someone asks you – why should I come to your church? You will know what to say.
It does not have to be long or complicated. It can be as simple as because we believe that God loves everyone…period. I love my church because everyone is welcome, everyone is loved, it does not matter who you are or where you have come from. We talk about God’s love which is given to all.
When they take a step back, in shock and awe, they may challenge you…..because NO ONE gives that much love and hospitality.
They may say…..
What if I…..NOPE God loves you.
But that one time…..NOPE God loves you.
So what you are saying is…..YUP God loves you.
It’s as simple as that….God loves you. God loves you for who you are and God is not asking you to change.
Our mission, as the body of Christ called Faith Lutheran church is to get that message out to as many people as possible. Because there is an assumption about the church and it is not a good one.