Romans 15: 7
Since my birthday celebration last weekend, I've been reflecting on past birthdays and which ones stood out. There are so many now! Five years ago was a special one, when my adult children, wife, and I tried indoor skydiving.
My childhood had few memorable birthday parties, because my family seemed to always take vacations around my birthday. The old family photos capture me holding birthday cakes at campgrounds and grandparents' houses, but I can only recall one birthday party with my school friends.
When reflecting on favorite birthdays, I seem to always return to my memorable 19th birthday. I had just begun working several weeks earlier as a summer intern developing software at a medical school. Much to my surprise, my new team members decorated our lab with posters and balloons, signed a card, and took me to lunch. A few even gave me presents. All this for a summer intern they barely knew! I felt so welcomed and so much a part of the team.
While this happened on the job, this is the same vision that Christ had for His church - to welcome the stranger, to be extravagant in our hospitality, to make a new friend feel part of the team. Romans 15: 7 reads:
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
I've been reading Robert Schnase's book, "Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations." He advocates for "Radical Hospitality," going beyond the basics to make visitors feel welcome and to fully incorporate them into the life of the church. Schnase writes:
A church changes its culture one person at a time. Radical Hospitality…begins when one person treats another respectfully and loves the stranger enough to overcome the internal hesitations to invite that person into the life of Christ’s church.
At some point, it's likely that someone welcomed us into the church. Someone loved us without knowing us. Someone took a risk to be the change, to invite, to embrace. Now each of us needs to do the same for others who are new and curious to know what these Christians are like.
If you enjoy podcasts, check out two released this month in which I participated. The first is my own podcast, "The Top 11 Themes of Jesus: #9 - Jesus Will Judge Humans." The best starting point to find it is on my web site at CecilTaylorMinistries.com/free-content .
The second is my guest appearance to talk about my book and video study, "The Next Thing," on the Hanging Out with Jesus podcast, hosted by Lyvita Brooks. You'll find this lively Episode 80, entitled, "Embracing God's Power during a Crisis," on iTunes/Apple or on Buzzsprout at https://www.buzzsprout.com/727185. Please also read about Lyvita and her ministry at LyvitaBrooks.com.