First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua

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June 2012

Christian Hospitality

Our God is a welcoming God. I believe the Lord's face shines with delight when He sees us! One important aspect of our Christian mission is to help people feel welcome in our church and to give them a comforting place to commune with God and other believers. This pertains not only to visitors, but also to the folks we have known for years.

"Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you," Paul wrote to the members of the house churches of Rome, in the fifteenth chapter of Romans. The new Roman congregations had been formed by different leaders at different times. Naturally, they understood the Christian faith in different ways. They were living apart and not sharing fellowship with each other. Paul wanted to see these new churches form stronger connections. For Paul, hospitality was a mutual responsibility, in which everyone is both a host and a guest. Christian hospitality is a witness to the world of God's love, in the community of the Holy Spirit.

Christian hospitality is not mere acceptance. As we live Christ's welcome, we are changed. God meets us where we are, but He never leaves us where we are. People are changed even transformed, when they are welcomed by Christ and His disciples into a community of mutual hospitality. Let us remember that Jesus intended evangelism to be achieved by personal contact. Jesus calls us to be more than friendly; He calls us to be hospitable. He welcomed diversity among his followers. Christ didn't wait for people to come to Him. Instead, He made every effort to go out and meet them and their needs.

Going to worship in a new church can be stressful for a visitor. When I came here, I found you all so friendly—but I was the new pastor and not a stranger. Strangers are less likely to know what Presbyterians do. They may be timid and unsure of themselves. A visitor may not know the worship rituals and traditions of the church, and may not even know anyone here. A visitor looks for a church where he or she will be welcomed. Most congregations pride themselves on being friendly. Our ministry of hospitality requires the entire congregation's support. It should begin before a visitor enters the church doors. We need new members, and our long-standing members, to come to our church in order for the First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua to survive. We have scheduled our Sunday worship services "bright and early" this summer—from 9 to 10 am, starting June 17. Why not bring a friend?

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joyce

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