Last Sunday, as is our custom we gathered round the table. We prayed — naming gratefulness for a lack of snow (AMEN) — and we began to check-in. The homework had been to both daily meditate on, “The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Heb. 13:6) — and to think of scripture (promises) that are formative/important for you.
Nearly all came ready with the scripture references (GREAT JOB) and were ready, dare I say anxious to speak more on the specific scriptures, however, all were invited to wait as these will be some of the scriptures we will use in the (near) future, of course with those who named them taking time to share with us what they have meant to them & perhaps helping facilitate the conversation/shape the homework too! (SO EXCITING — right?!)
And we were able to spend a bit of time also considering the piece of scripture we had meditated on. Striking, was the mention and observation that while we can meditate, lean on and trust in this promise, that God is our helper ALWAYS, it is so stinking hard in the middle of circumstances to be totally encouraged with this. I love this honesty, that the walk is not always easy, and while we might be alone — we can’t always see God at work. And I love that many named how it was later, when there was a revelation and an understanding that even in the chaos, even through the darkness, and in those longest nights — God was faithful and active and brought us through — and it was this understanding, the observed faithfulness of God through the hard places of our real lives that can encourage us to lean on and trust in the promise that God is our helper and we have no need to be afraid — no matter what is going on around us.
So we turned, as we do to scripture. To 1 Peter 4:8-9:
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (New International Version)
Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. (The Message)
8 Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. (Good News Translation)
8 Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. (New Living Translation)
Two little verses, but with so much to say. Love each other. Love each other above all. #LOVE. And offer hospitality, but not only offer it — offer it without grumbling, without complaining — in fact offer it cheerfully! (CHEERFULLY!) We talked a bit about hospitality. Two people were blessed to see GREAT, COSTLY, HUMBLE hospitality offered cheerfully from their parents: a bed, clothes, shelter in a garage for someone most people tried to ignore & avoid; the willing sharing of food even when someone rudely knocked on the door with expectation to receive. We also recognized (or maybe it’s just me….) that cheerful hospitality is hard, hospitality when you’re already asleep, when you’ve already given, when you would really rather not….when you really don’t have anything to offer….
Hospitality is hard. Hospitality is expected. So we come to the homework. A two-parter:
1st: Think of the best hospitality you ever have received (or seen) — what made it so great?
2nd: Think of the times you have not offered hospitality….or have offered hospitality with complaint, with grumbling, or not cheerfully…Ask forgiveness for these times & ask for God to change your heart.
Beloved looking forward to gather again. Honored to be in this journey with the likes of each of you. Peace & shalom as we remember ways we have sinned and ask forgiveness.
In Christ – the risen One who we follow ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater