Radical Hospitality for the Rest of Us
Scripture Readings: Hebrews 13, Romans 12, Luke 14
The Good News is that the Gospel of Jesus is alive and coming to us from others – and coming from us to others! The life of Jesus is bridging us to paths of hope and life giving acceptance that happen when God’s hospitality opens our hearts and engages our lives.
Today we welcome just a few of the people who are finding life and hope among us. They bring with them an invitation to see what God is doing in the world and to welcome it into our hearts and into our lives as well. This is the heart of Radical Hospitality. It is a primary by-product of being made new in Christ.
Finding our Neighbors is about opening our hearts and our lives to God’s Hospitality, where we learn to open our lives newly and creatively to people God’s bring to us along our Journey of Faith. This is what we mean by “Finding our Neighbors.” It is a work of God, opening our lives and the lives of others as the life of Christ is poured out into our lives and into our community life, through God’s love and mercy.
Today, I want to share with you a vision for and seven signs of Radical Hospitality as God opens us to God’s work right here were we live. They are called: Radical Hospitality for the Rest of Us.
When we practice Radical Hospitality, two things happen. First, those we welcome begin to experience the radical “Welcome” of God among us. And second, we each on our own experience a participation in what God is doing and a liberation from our self-preoccupation. The liberation that learning to practice Radical Hospitality wherever we go, is a liberation for us and our lives. Liberation is what happens for all of us as God’s Radical Hospitality is accepted and shared. This is “Finding Our Neighbors.”
It is a powerful way to live. It is God’s way with us. It is life giving for those who practice it and for those who receive it.
Every year at Good Sam we bring a theme into our lives and explore it together for a few weeks. This year, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 21 we will be exploring the theme: Finding Our Neighbors.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was exploring the question about right and just behavior with a lawyer who was asking aloud what the most important Commandment is. Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” The Lawyer asked, “Well, then, who is my neighbor?”
It was an important question in the interaction between Jesus and the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” And the real answer is that question, “To whom can you prove to be a neighbor?” We might ask ourselves as a church or ourselves personally, “Where can we prove to be a neighbor?”
This year, during Fall Focus we are engaging the theme: Finding Our Neighbors. The discovery may be, that this is a personal journey, as much as it is a corporate or communal journey that we take together. Each Sunday, in these four weeks, we’ll explore a different expression or example of someone who searched out their own story and in the journey, found their neighbors and a new sense of community that was previously unexplored.
This season, we’ll explore these themes in “Finding Our Neighbors:”
Sept. 30 Radical Hospitality and the Liberation That Comes With It
Oct. 7 Building the Conversation; Listening to Connect
Oct. 14 “What Are You Ready to Live For?” Give it Voice!
Oct. 21 What Does “Finding Our Neighbors” Mean for Good Sam and for You?
Join us for these four weeks. Here are some ways to to engage and explore these discoveries:
- Join us each week in Worship, beginning Sept. 30.
- After Worship, join in discussion during “Coffee and Conversation” where we’ll further discuss the message and the theme for that Sunday.
- Join us on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. beginning Oct. 3 through Oct. 24 to review the video message from the previous Sunday and further talk on the theme.
- Listen to the recording of each Sunday’s message and reflect on how your involvement at Good Sam might reflect this message and how your own everyday life might benefit from this theme. Each Monday there is a new post on the Good Sam website that includes a link to the previous Sunday’s audio recording.
Making New Connections Is Building Life and Hope At Good Sam
Perhaps you have heard that we are connecting with our neighbors with new energy and a deeper sense of welcome at Good Sam. At Eat and Play Fellowship we have neighborhood children and families joining us; during the Eagle Scout project building the Stations of the Cross neighborhood children got involved and stayed to have a meal. On Sunday September 30th we will be receiving a new group of members who are walking together in faith and there are others who are already becoming active participants with us in worship and in our community activities. All of these activities are about Making New Connections.
Last week we received our first installment of our New Connections Grant. This $9,000 will help pay the salary of our new Coordinator of Mission and Engagement, Kelly Thurber and other training and engagement materials in the next year. We hope you have met Kelly and your ministry group is beginning to think about how you too can begin Making New Connections both at Good Sam and in our community. Kelly would love to be involved, help get the word out and assist you in these efforts.
Already our Making New Connections efforts are having an impact on our worship life, our fellowship life, the new and expanding relationship we are making in the community. Thank you for supporting this program through your participation, your good will, your offerings and your prayers to God for this work in which we all share. I thank God for the steadfast and faithful love with which we are loved and upheld in Christ and I thank God for the faithfulness that is being reflected among us as we give ourselves in response to the love we have known in Christ. I am so proud to be among you as your Pastor.
Pastor Mitch Watney
Sermon: “Hold the Tongue, Reserve Judgement and Wait on the Lord”
Prayer: O God, through suffering and rejection you bring forth our salvation, and by the glory of the cross you transform our lives. Grant that for the sake of the gospel we may turn from the lure of evil, take up our cross, and follow your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Mark’s Gospel.
“Operation No Starvation” is a program designed to foster volunteerism and instill a spirit of giving in kids ages 6 to 17. The program focuses on hunger prevention through fundraising and food drive campaigns for St. Mary’s Caring. The initiative is designed to inspire kids to engage in community service and begin building a volunteer portfolio, while working with a team of their peers to develop leadership skills. Participants are provided with resources they need to put together their own projects, in addition to group campaigns that target specific programs for the soup kitchen. The group meets the 3rd Saturday of each month during the school year. The 2018-19 School Year Kick-Off meeting will be Saturday, October, 20 at 2:00 P.M.
Check out St. Mary’s Caring website to find out more about Operation No Starvation. (And, see our very own Sydney & Savannah VanCamp featured on the home page. They participated in this program last year.)
Congregations are always trying to find out the rules of attraction. I don’t use the word “attractive” to indicate “hip,” “trendy” or even aesthetically pretty, but a cluttered building does create a chaotic message. I mean “attractive” as in people are attracted to them, attracted to join their God-given mission.
In my years as a parish pastor, I’ve come to believe that the most effective evangelism strategy is the personal invitation. “Come and see” is the line Philip uses on Nathanael in the Gospel of John (1:46), and it’s still the most attractive way to help people walk in the church doors and encounter the gospel.
But there are other ways, of course.
One we use in my community is what I call the “see and come” phenomenon. I refuse to call it a strategy because, when it’s authentic, the “see and come” phenomenon isn’t a tool or strategy for evangelism at all. It’s just the simple outpouring of a community that’s taking Jesus’ call to love the neighbor as the self seriously. It’s discipleship on display.
Where “come and see” evangelism relies on someone extending a personal invitation, the “see and come” phenomenon happens when people outside the church see faith in action and decide they want to be part of whatever God is doing there.
We give clues as to what our community is about by what we’re about. Here are some of my observations of what congregations embodying the “see and come” phenomenon are doing.
They use their space well. God calls us to be good stewards of the earth in the early chapters of Genesis, which includes whatever space your building inhabits. We’re trying to do this in my parish, though it’s always a work in progress. We recently put in two garden beds right by the building’s front entrance. In these beds, small vegetables and table flowers will grow, which means usable produce for our feeding programs and a veritable science lab for our preschool to use to learn about God’s creation.
Like many congregations that have the font at their sanctuary entrance to ensure you can’t enter or exit without thinking about your baptismal calling, we have these gardens at our church entrance, ensuring that you can’t enter or exit without thinking of the practical implications of that calling. In the sea of concrete that is our parking lot, we have a garden oasis, a visible sign of our mission to feed the poor and care for the earth. You can’t not see our mission when you pull into the parking lot.
Everything in and around the church should have a purpose that fits with the community’s current mission. And if it doesn’t, it should be rethought or discarded. Attractive congregations take their space seriously and use it to signal their mission.
They use their energy well. If your neighborhood has to come inside your doors or go to your website to know what you’re about, you’re not engaged enough in what’s going on in your community. Find the issues of need and concern in your small corner of existence and take public action to talk about it. Some congregations create mobile food pantries, march for justice and peace, or regularly and publicly volunteer to address local needs.
Perhaps you have the opposite problem: Your congregation has a finger in every pie and there are never enough volunteers to meet the needs you’ve committed yourself to, so no one knows what you’re about. This isn’t due to inactivity but because of too much activity.
Attractive congregations know what God is calling them to do with their lives and hearts (usually just one or two things), and they do it publicly and to the best of their ability. The community “sees how they love” through their actions and comes to join them in mission.
They use the gifts of others well. The best way to get a potential volunteer to pass on an opportunity is to tell them, “Oh, it’s so easy! Anyone can do it!” If anyone can do it, then they will assume anyone else can step up.
Different people have different gifts. Finding opportunities that highlight a person’s particular gifts engages them both in the church’s mission and in their personal skill set. People outside the church see this when they engage with these people, and the call to sacrifice is actually one that they will take when they see a community using it intentionally, for good.
Not everyone is suited for every role, and attractive churches match people up with their particular gifts so the congregation’s mission is furthered. More and more I’m finding that people want something asked of them in the community of faith. Sacrificial giving of time and talents is desired and, I think, can be required.
When I’ve worked with congregations and talked with colleagues about their particular faith communities, these three themes always come up: space, mission and gifts. The good news is being proclaimed faithfully in these places, but embodying the gospel takes some practice and intentionality.
When the neighborhood can see pieces of our mission before they ever walk through the door, when they can know our heart before we’ve ever said a word, and when they know how mindful we are in using our people’s gifts, they will experience the “see and come” phenomenon.
The life-changing message of Christ is very much alive today, but would anyone know it by looking at our churches? Make it known. Make it heard. When they see, they will come.
Friends of Good Sam, Peace and Saint Nicholas Lutheran Churches,
Due to impending rain and muddy conditions which are poor for harvesting we will be cancelling our Sept 8th event and rescheduling our time with Farming 4 Hunger. Please stay tuned for additional announcements about when our next activity will be.
Pastor Mitch, Pastor Shannon, Pastor Ken, Christy and Kelly.
Sermon: “Centered on God”
Prayer: O God our strength, without you we are weak and wayward creatures. Protect us from all dangers that attack us from the outside, and cleanse us from all evil that arises from within ourselves, that we may be preserved through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
The sermon begins after the reading from Mark’s Gospel.
The Stitching Sisters group will begin their fall schedule on Wednesday, September 12 from Noon – 3:00 P.M. at Good Sam. Bring a sandwich to share on the luncheon platter. All are welcome to join us! We’ll also be meeting on Wednesday, September 26 for our second gathering of the month. Please let Edna A., Ginger L. if you have questions or would like to join in.
Chancel Choir will begin rehearsals following our summer break Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. Choir practice is from 7:00 – 8:00 P.M. each Thursday. If you like to sing and would like to join in the fun, please join us on Thursday night. The Chancel Choir typically sings at least one –two Sundays each month and may perform a cantata or selection of songs during special occasions and seasons.