Over the course of my ministry I’ve had the opportunity to visit a lot of churches, and have been involved in numerous conversations with regard to the identity and character of a particular faith community. Inevitably I would hear: “we are a friendly church” or, “we are an inviting and welcoming church”, only to find out through a visit on Sunday morning: welcoming, inviting, and friendly to those they know, yes. Welcoming, inviting, and friendly to the stranger in their midst, well, not so much!
Radical Hospitality, the kind of hospitality God calls us to, is a hospitality that goes beyond just being, nice. As followers of Christ radical hospitality is extended through our actions: “If you’ve done it to the least of these brothers and sisters, you’ve done it to me” (Matthew 25:40); and in our prayers: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Radical Hospitality involves embracing diversity – the kind of diversity we learned through song as a child: Red and yellow black and white all are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world! As followers of Christ we are to, as St. Benedict puts it: “Welcome the other”!
The question we should always be asking ourselves (individually and as a community of faith) is are we are practicing the hospitality of Jesus? Answering this question starts by embracing our diversity. Father Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt in their book, Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love, write:
“The hardest thing about all these people is their absolute otherliness, which cannot be tamed or ignored. They are going to remain unlike us. We are not going to understand them. We should celebrate this. We need them to be different from us. It fits in the way the universe has been designed.” (p.85)
Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is a diverse community of faith; and God is calling us to widen our circle further. I look forward to serving in ministry with you as we partner with God to bring His “kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven”. See you in church!