Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaving Our Nets and Radical Hospitality

Yesterday in church, I thought of pastor David Eck's post on what it really means to be a welcoming church.  He concludes:  "The reason why I bring this up is that I believe the phrase 'All Are Welcome' is dead. It has lost its meaning because it has been relegated to an overused catch phrase. The challenge is for progressive congregations to talk about what it truly means to live out this phrase. Then, when we're ready to embrace the meaning of these words, we need to tell our story to the community at large with clarity and power."

Yesterday in my church, our pastor talked about radical hospitality and what it might mean.  Our pastor talked about the need to take our hospitality out of our churches and into the world.  It's not enough to sit in our churches and wait for people to find us.  We need to think about the world which has a deep need for the kind of hospitality that Christians offer.

The Gospel yesterday had Jesus calling us to fish for people, and our pastor challenged us to leave the safe boats of our churches.  I love Kathleen Kirk's view on this approach in her blog post for yesterday: 

"Pastor Bob was interested in what would make you drop everything and start a new adventure, and, specifically, what would you need to give up to do so.

This was not leading to an easy equation, nor a conventional platitude: to win big you have to take a big risk, etc. This was a suggestion that we might have to give up a sense of identity. When Simon and Andrew left off fishing, they were leaving a way of life. When James and John stopped mending their nets, they were leaving a family business:

We can safely suppose there were sacrifices involved--psychological ones as well as material, having to leave behind not only their livelihood but something of their self-understanding, too."

Here's one of her conclusions that I'll think about today, as I'm facing today's tasks and yearning to drop all kinds of nets:  "Yes, the nets could well be seen as entanglements, or things we hold onto that can drag us down into the swirling depths, or even drown us. It's hard to swim tangled in a net or lugging a lot of mental baggage."

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