Radical Hospitality

One of the stated values of our congregation is Radical Hospitality.  Hospitality is a habit, a practice, that is woven throughout the biblical story. From Abraham’s gracious reception of three guests at Mamre (Genesis 18), to Joseph’s welcoming his brothers – and all who came – in time of famine (Genesis 41:57); from the open table fellowship of Jesus to the sharing of all things in common of the early church (Acts 2) hospitality of a radical sort is practiced.

In the Abraham story, when three people show up at his tents (who turn out to be messengers of God), Abraham does not simply offer a bit of bread and some water; a bit of shade for protection from the sun. He drops everything and prepares a meal from the best of his flock. He waits on them personally. Jesus not only welcomes everyone to his table but leaves them with a piece of himself as he teaches, heals, and announces the reign of God.

This radical hospitality is an act of faith, a practice of discipleship, because it mimics divine grace. God, in spite of our stubbornness and resistance, welcomes us into the life of the Holy Trinity and lavishes abundance upon us each day, if we have eyes that will see. That is radical hospitality.

Last Sunday, as I walked into the Café Koinonia after worship, a large, lively, crowd was gathered. There was laughter; kids were running to grab one more donut; friends supporting friends – the very things that warm a pastor’s heart. Then I felt a chill. I saw a couple I did not recognize sitting at a table alone. I was pretty sure they were guests and no one in the room had noticed. I began to move toward them and scanned the room for someone who could welcome them besides the pastor (because being greeted by a guy who gets paid to do it is not radical). Just then, a couple who had lots of other friends in the room spied the guests and made a beeline for them. Greetings and introductions ensued and divine love – radical hospitality – made an appearance.

I share this because Pastor Pam and I have noticed this scenario too frequently lately. Guests, or people who don’t know lots of folks sitting alone.  No one should be alone in this place. I know that on Sunday everyone wants to connect with friends and catch up on the latest news. I also know that as everyone left worship and took the first ten minutes of coffee and donuts to connect with someone they didn’t know, our congregation would be stronger; we would be better at our mission of sharing God’s love; we would be practicing radical hospitality.

Radical hospitality reflects how much room there is in the heart of God for everyone, no matter how distant or broken. Practicing radical hospitality trains us to open a bit of our hearts to brothers and sisters who bear God’s love. Who will tell people that they are God’s beloved? For Abraham, it was three strangers. For the folks sitting alone in the Café, it could be you.

Pax Christi, Pastor Tim Olson

copyright 2019 Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

The Mystery of God

This weekend is Holy Trinity Sunday.  This is the one Sunday during the entire Christian year that is devoted to a doctrine of the church. It’s a Sunday where we celebrate God as we imagine the majestic nature of God the Three in One and the One in Three. The mystery of our God is hard to grasp because it is beyond what our human minds can comprehend.

The Holy Trinity is proclaimed multiple times during worship; at the beginning of worship the Presiding Minister greets the congregation in the name of the Trinity,  and worship concludes with a Trinitarian blessing.  How many times do you hear the Trinity invoked in worship? It is not just at the beginning and the end. You might want to pay attention this week. Why is it important? Trinitarian language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is neither magical or hierarchical, but is instead and invitation to a deeper relationship and encounter with God who is by God’s very nature, a God who is about relationships.  The Holy Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are in relationship with each other, and with us as a community of believers.

The name of the Triune God is used when we baptize, and it is used when we bury.  Both times bringing joy and gratitude to a God who reaches out to us in life and hope, and never lets us go.  In the ELW (Evangelical Lutheran Worship) there is a portion of the funeral liturgy that is at the beginning of the service which claims our belief in the Holy Trinity.  Hear the grace poured out in our loving God:

Eternal God, maker of heaven and earth, who formed us from the dust of the earth, who by your breath gave us life, we glorify you. Congregation responds: We glorify you.

Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, who suffered death for all humanity, who rose from the grave to open the way to eternal life, we praise you. Congregation responds: We praise you.

Holy Spirit, author and giver of life, the comforter of all who sorrow, our sure confidence and everlasting hope, we worship you. Congregation responds:  We worship you.

The Creeds of the church tell us about the nature of the Trinity. They were prepared as a defense for the Christian faith against the many false teachings prevailing at the time.  But heresies are just as prevalent today, we just don’t name them that as often as perhaps we should. The Creeds also bring us together with other denominations who confess their faith through the same creeds. They also serve in helping each of us to understand our faith so that we can defend it and share it. They are statements of what we believe.  I invite you to use the Apostles or Nicene Creed in your daily devotional time to grasp the majestic nature of God, the inclusiveness of God.

The majesty and the mystery of our universal God are what gives hope to the world.  Trinitarian God, we glorify you, we praise you, we love you and we give you thanks!

Pastor Pamela Schroeder