Beloved In Christ,
This month, I want to talk briefly about some of the new realities in the life of our congregation—the most prominent of which is the new parts of our body that are being added to us! We’ve already had several new families formally join us in membership this fall, and I anticipate that we will likely have more in weeks and months to come. In addition, there are often many new faces on Sunday mornings, some of whom are visiting our church for the first time. I’m so grateful for God’s provision in sending us these new saints. But I also know that growth and change is a challenge for all of us (just as it is for any group of people), whether one has been a part of Colleyville Presbyterian Church for a few months or a few decades.
My constant prayer is that each of us who inhabit this community we’re shaping together, new and old, would count one another in humility more significant than ourselves and be disciplined in looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of one another. Right now, because of the time and place in which God has put us, that means that we have a special need for the gift of hospitality in our congregation. And in order to exercise that gift, all of us, new members and long-time members, need to take the risk of extending welcome to those who are strange to us and even embrace discomfort for the sake of each other. When is the last time you welcomed another person or family in the congregation that you didn’t know well into your home to share a meal together? After worship, do you look for new faces to greet and to whom you can pass the peace of Christ, or are you content to simply speak with those whom you are already familiar? Are you willing to occasionally give up your freedom to worship as you normally do in order to care for some of the new children the Lord has brought us in our nursery?
Don’t misunderstand me—I know that hospitality is a strength of our body. But I also know that our God delights to push us beyond what we are comfortable with, even in our strengths, so that we might grow, not only as individuals, but also as a corporate body up to maturity; even to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Like prayer or scripture reading, hospitality is a discipline that requires intention, repetition and sacrifice, but it also blossoms over time into a great reward. Also, like prayer and scripture reading, the practiced discipline of hospitality doesn’t require fancy meals or perfectly clean houses—sometimes it’s best when done simply and without fanfare.
So, as we approach the season of Advent, Christmas, and the new year, my prayer is that each of us will be open to sharing our time, our personalities, and all the gifts and resources that God has entrusted us with so that we might know new friendships, new people in our home, new faces in “our” row, and new experiences of God’s grace as we step out in faith toward one another. And as we move toward a time of celebrating the gift of Jesus’ incarnation, let us remember that when we practice hospitality we do so in imitation of him—as those whom he loves with a love that was not content with the status quo, but embraced discomfort, difficulty and sacrifice in order that we who were once strangers might be known by him and even be called his friends.
Let’s follow Jesus together.