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Traveling with God: Week of September 23, 2018

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

Traveling with God Week of: September 23, 2018
Devotion

Just a couple weeks ago a post went viral among my circle of friends on Facebook. The picture was of a piece of paper handed to a parent at a church, that invited them to leave the service because their child was being loud. It was worded as kindly as something like this could be, but it essentially said "you and your child are not welcome in this church, please leave." Everyone I saw who shared this story was horrified that a church would act in such a way, and many of them were pastors who said something like this would never happen in their church. 

Unfortunately, many churches do struggle with the idea of welcoming anyone outside of their ideal; anyone who looks funny, talks strangely, or is loud really wouldn't be welcome in most churches. We attended a lovely church here in Wales this morning, and the pastor, preaching on this passage, shared a thought that really struck me. She said that true hospitality is being welcoming of the 'other'. The other might be someone who makes us uncomfortable, someone who looks different than we do, or someone who, like a child, might be disruptive through no particular fault of their own. 

When Jesus welcomes the little children, or eats with the sinners, or does other unexpected things, he is reminding us that God shows up everywhere. The pastor this morning reminded us that God is likely to show up in places and people we don't expect, or even like, or might consider "beyond the pale". And yet, as followers of Christ, we are required to be welcoming anyway. We must set aside our own preferences or prejudices to welcome all into the kingdom of God, just as God has welcomed us. 

Prayer

God of us all, young and old alike, help us to remember that you welcome us even though you know all of our faults and flaws. Likewise, help us to welcome the other in our midst and all around us, because when we welcome them, we welcome you. Amen.