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Posts Tagged ‘Hospitality’

Welcome home: Commission, Community and Compassion

September 5th, 2011

Romans 15: 2-3, 5-7

The Biblical Principles.

  • God is community – in the community of the Trinity, God is never lonely. God did not create us so as to fulfill any need in himself. We were created in his likeness to reflect his glory, which includes reflecting his community.
  • It is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18), we are created to be in community. Although this has been disrupted by the Fall, the gospel comes to us as a message of reconciliation.
  • Our main problem is our disconnection from God which leads to a disconnection with others. Jean Paul Sartre illustrated this with his comments “God is solitude, God is absence” and “hell is other people” – in our fallen world, this would be true had not Christ come to reconcile us to God and to each other.

 Hospitality – an attitude of heart

  • Although hospitality can be shown by anyone, even those who know nothing of Christ, we, of all people, should excel at welcoming others home.
  • John Calvin argued that the existence of restaurants and hotels is proof of the depravity of man. People earn money by providing that which human beings should freely give to each other.
  • Attitudes to hospitality vary across cultures. There is something very defensive about British culture, but, in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid but, instead, should reach out to the unloveable (Matthew 5:43-47)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – We are called to be ministers of reconciliation, called to the mission of God and the commission of Christ to make disciples. We should affirm other people as important.
  • There is a danger of thinking that the current move to multi-site is, in itself, the answer. The answer is a church which genuinely loves people on mission and actively cares about the people in our communities.
  • The church family which God is building is one for all kinds of people. Martin Luther argued that the kingdom of God must be among enemies or else we are simply blaspheming and betraying Christ, who lived among his enemies!
  • We are not just to be receivers of hospitality or just givers of hospitality (spending all out time in the kitchen but barely talking to anyone).
  • But what about people living in tiny bedsits or flats, how can they invite people into their homes? We can be grateful to God that Brighton is full of other places (cafes, pubs, parks etc) where we can invite people.
  • When you do invite people in, care about them. Watch your language and the subjects that you talk about so as to include people.
  • A word on boundaries – The question “Who is my neighbour?” is answered by the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) where a man risks danger to help an enemy. However, note that the Samaritan is in danger from bandits not from the person he is helping. It is right to seek to protect our households when we invite people in. We should be both extravagent and wise in our hospitality. Christian leaders, in particular, are called to model hospitality (literally: “being fond of guests”)
  • 1 Peter 4:9 – Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22 – to the weak we make ourselves weak to lead them to Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:28 – The point of not stealing but engaging in honest labour is to share with others.

Breathing life into small groups

  • We should not merely have two or three front doors (with the new sites) but hundreds of front doors across the city to welcome people in.

Seven points for small groups:
(1) Ensure that you are on God’s mission (i.e. that mission is not a “bolt-on” activity but the spine of the small group).
(2) See yourselves as God’s immediate provision for one another (gathering around the gospel and showing Christ to each other).
(3) Build one another up for mission. (We also need to open and honest when inviting others).
(4) Transcend “small group night” (the small group is the people not the meeting).
(5) Pray for individuals and localities (we want the city to be blessed by our being here).
(6) Pray and strategise for the area (be proactive and seize opportunities).
(7) Preceive and receive (asking God to show you what he is doing and whom he is sending to you).
Is there a family who will welcome people in?

 

Welcome Home

September 1st, 2011

Graham Marsh

Luke 14:1-22

  • Jesus was invited to the meal but it was set up – they invited a sick man to see if Jesus would heal him – which He did
  • The Sabbath is a day for recreation – it is for our benefit
Jesus didn’t mind being with those who were out to get him
  • We often feel uncomfortable around those we don’t have anything in common with – what did Jesus have in common with them?
  • We need to be in these situations – we are called to be salt and light
  • We need to remember our position and be clear headed – Jesus said stop promoting ourselves – don’t put yourself at the top of the table
  • We exist for God’s glory not our own. It is Jesus seated on the throne, not us
  • Don’t take the seat – wait to be offered it
  • To stop being self-centred, look at Jesus
  • Philippians 2:1-5
  • Humility is knowing our place and being thankful we’re even invited
Everyone on the guest list is disadvantaged
  • This is a room full of ordinary people
  • Why is this story in Luke? Because we are all invited and we all arrived in the same way – we were invited by Jesus
  • We have more in common with the London rioters than we do Jesus
  • In humility, we are invited
  • When we’ve been here a while, we forget what it is like to be new.
  • When we go multi-site there will be many who don’t know what to do
Practical Tips
  1. Not everyone knows someone – be inclusive
  2. Not everyone knows where to go – be helpful
  3. Not everyone knows the routine – be accepting
  4. Not everyone knows they’re welcome – be reassuring
  5. Not everyone knows they’re amongst people just like them – be genuine
  6. Not everyone knows Jesus – be Jesus
  • If you are in, remember the cost and how you got there
  • Come to the feast, there is room at the table

Lessons From a 12 Year Old

August 23rd, 2011

Phil Moore

Luke 2:41-47

  • The context: in the Jewish culture of that day, boys were treated as men when they reached the age of 13. Until then they were seen as “nothing”.
  • Jesus is always surprising in the gospels – he acts differently to what we expect. Here we would expect Him to boast about being the Son of God and preach at everyone, but instead He sits and listens.
  • We can learn a lot from the 12 year old Jesus about how to share our faith.
  1. Love like Jesus
    • ‘sitting among the teachers’
    • Jesus was simply spending time with others – not the obvious thing we think of when it comes to sharing our faith.
    • We’re so consumed with communicating the message that we often forget to act like the messenger.
    • Jesus told many parables about people leaving everything and going after the one seemingly insignificant thing (the lost sheep, the lost coin, etc). The parables Jesus told were not meant to be nice stories but were told to surprise us and make us question their seeming ridiculousness.
    • We need to see people as each life that is precious to God. He treasures people – His love is for each person.
    • Sometimes we don’t share Jesus because of fear – but most of the time it’s down to a lack of love.
    • If you genuinely love people, even if you “fail”, God can still use you.
    • Being a smart alec, a self-righteous know-it-all, won’t get you anywhere.
    • Love people and help them.
  2. Ask like Jesus
    • ‘listening to them and asking them questions’
    • Jesus was the last person who needed to ask questions! But questions are the best way to start a conversation about the gospel.
    • Find out about the person you’re with – be quick to listen and slow to speak.
    • We think sharing the gospel is about talking about ourselves.
    • People want to be listened to.
    • Asking questions keeps the conversation going.
    • If you give too much too fast – ramming stuff down people’s throats – they won’t be able to take it; they’ll “vomit” it back up. Prov. 25:16.
    • Questions help you to find out where people are coming from and realise what it is they need to hear.
    • You can’t have a one-size-fits-all message.
    • Ask questions about what people care about.
    • Questions help people realise they need answers.
  3. Share like Jesus
    • ‘Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers’
    • This is where people then start to ask you questions back.
    • The more you ask people about what they believe, the more they’ll ask you about your beliefs.
    • You don’t attack a person – you talk about their beliefs and suggest they may be wrong.
    • People need tour guides not Bible bashers. You see God where other people don’t and you point Him out.

Hospitality and the Nature of God

August 16th, 2011

Revelation 19:6-9

The aim of this first sermon is to launch the “Welcome Home” series and to provide a theological background to the issue of hospitality.

Is there something in the nature and character of God which models hospitality?

A useful clarification to make is that hospitality does not only mean welcoming people into your homes. This series will be using the term
in a wider sense of welcoming people.

Four key words to remember:
• Invitation
• Acceptance
• Fellowship
• Celebration

(1) INVITATION

The marriage supper of the Lamb involves an invitation from God to his church. Of course, the church is united with Christ now, but the marriage supper takes this union a step further – it is a celebration of the church being caught up in the final victory of Christ and never being separated from him.

v. 9 Who is invited? The church. But the church is the bride, how then can the bride be invited? The church corporately is the bride
of Christ. The wedding invitation puts the emphasis on individual believers being welcomed.

God issues personal invitations to us (see James 4:8, Hebrews 4:15-16, Hebrews 10:19 and Matthew 11:28). It is in the nature of God to invite people to himself.

(2) ACCEPTANCE

With us, wedding invitations can be issued out of a sense of duty, but this is not so with God. His invitation to share the wedding supper of the Lamb shows his total acceptance of us. We can be accepted as those who have been justified (i.e. declared righteous) through the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf. Justification is total acceptance.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “… and such were some of you.” Whatever our background, whatever our past sin, God has accepted us in Christ.

The practical application if this for us is found in Romans 15:7 “Therefore accept one another as Christ has accepted you.”

Hospitality goes beyond duty and must involve acceptance. We should accept one another and associate with people who are not like us, even as Christ left heaven to associate with us. We should keep in good relationship with one another and put things right with one another when they go wrong.

(3) FELLOWSHIP

The world translated “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia which is basically untranslatable. It speaks of sharing, of relationship and also can be used of marriage. At the marriage supper of the Lamb, we will have eternal fellowship with Christ.

We can offer hospitality out of position, as paying guests. We do indeed have a position as those who are “in Christ” but we have been given this status in order than we can know God and have fellowship with him every day.

Revelation 3:20 – Christ desires to have fellowship with the local church.

(4) CELEBRATION

The strongest element of the marriage supper of the Lamb as described in vv 6-9 is celebration. Jesus ate with sinners in celebration of their redemption. Just by sitting and eating together (even if it is just a cup of tea) we too can celebrate.

Celebration is in the very nature of God.

One practical application of this is the way in which we practice the Lord’s Supper. Communion should be a celebration, not a grim
ritual. Yes, we remember the death of Christ, but, through the bread and wine, we celebrate our redemption and look forward to that day when the Lord’s Supper will pass away and be replaced by the marriage supper of the Lamb, to which Christ has invited us, where we are accepted, where we will have fellowship with him and where we will celebrate his victory and our redemption.

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