A Message from Ellen
December 5, 2018
When God came to earth in human form it wasn’t because God needed to do so, but because humanity needed God to come. In Christ, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Our salvation cost God everything. It was not convenient or pleasant or easy. As Christ followers we are to do the same for others. This is part of why I believe that followers of Christ must practice radical hospitality.
Let me tell you of three experiences of radical hospitality that I have witnessed in this congregation just this week.
First and second, we will hold two funeral services for two men who were not members of Forest Lake Presbyterian Church this week. You may not know this, but it takes a lot of time and work to ensure that a funeral happens beautifully and seamlessly. It takes somewhere between 10 to 15 hours of time for me to get the bulletin and service planned. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are women in this congregation who changed their plans for the week to bake and to plan to put together lovely receptions for those who come to a funeral. They are up early and go to bed late making sure that our Church Parlor is beautiful and the food is delicious so that those who come will feel welcome. The organist and soloists put in extra hours of practice and that doesn’t yet count the time the ushers put in to unlock, set-up and then clean-up and lock the building. Our Office Manager spends time creating the bulletins and making copies of the recording of the service for families, and the Business Manager often spends hours writing notes to notify family of memorials. It takes hours of work and much generosity of spirit to have a Service of Witness to the Resurrection, and I would contend that we do this all out of a Christian spirit of radical hospitality; doing for others what they cannot do for themselves as a cost to our own comfort, schedule and lives.
The third example of radical hospitality I have witnessed is our Family Promise program. This week we have one family – a mom, a dad and two young children. They told Jodi Beckham on Sunday night that they had never felt so alone as they felt the day before they moved into a church Sunday School room through the family promise program, and that they had never experienced so much love as they have received from the churches since they became Family Promise guests. We call the families who stay with us “guests”, because we offer them hospitality. And again, our members volunteer to sleep on mattresses that are not as nice as their own, members fix suppers and other meals, play with the children, wash clothes, set-up and take down the rooms, and sit to talk with families who – without the radical hospitality of our congregation – would be without shelter in our city.
In the name of and after the example of the God who came to earth in human form, finding shelter in a stable, and who gave his life for human beings who did not deserve or recognize the gift – thank you for being a congregation of radical hospitality!
Grace and Peace!