Today’s service was wonderful for several reasons including:
- Our children’s ministry, which usually has 30-50 kids on a Sunday, had two this morning. (It’s beautiful out, so they’re all surely swimming in the lake!) So, for our children’s time, we called forward “young disciples and young-at-heart disciples,” and had a whole intergenerational crew delightfully gathered on the steps together. The kids thought it was hilarious. (Emily did, too).
- Our pick-up choir, which gathers 20 minutes before the service each week to practice something to sing together, sang “In the Garden” so beautifully during our offertory that the whole church almost stopped breathing for a few minutes.
- Our church served 310+ people a full breakfast yesterday, and we were here in great numbers serving, cooking, and cleaning! And then…we all came back today for worship and fellowship together. How amazing to have full pews after a full day of serving.
- There was a light out in the sanctuary all morning (they do that sometimes, these older light fixtures) and just as Emily said “Jesus” in the sentence, “Look what happened to Jesus when he came to live among us,” the light up front came on in full force. It was a beautiful and holy surprise reminder of the light that came into the world, and is with us still when we gather in Christ’s name.
Today’s sermon is posted here. We’d love to see you any Sunday. Worship is at 9am.
Works cited: my understanding of the Greek for “hospitality” (philoxenia) and its opposite, xenophobia, is informed by the book Just hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference, written by Yale Professor Letty M. Russell (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). Russell writes, on page 66:
The Greek New Testament abounds in exhortations to hospitality…New Testament scholar John Koenig describes hospitality as “partnership with strangers” and “the catalyst for creating and sustaining partnerships in the gospel.” The Greek word, philoxenia, means “love of the stranger.” It is the opposite of xenophobia, which means “hatred of the stranger” or the one who is different. We are exhorted to hospitality by Paul, who bids us “welcome one another” as Christ has welcomed us (Rom. 15:7).
I commend Russell’s text to anyone looking for a deeper exploration of God’s call in the Christian Bible to welcome the stranger.