2 Pentecost

The Rev. Mary Grambsch

Your Word, O Lord, is a lantern for our feet and a light upon our path.  In the Name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

      As a product of 12 years of Public School education and another 12 years of college and post graduate education, I can tell you with certainty, the primary way we human beings learn something is through repetition.  Our school teachers would ask us the same questions over and over again – “ What is the state capital of Hawaii? Honolulu, What is the chemical symbol for water? H2O”.  What is the date of the Norman Conquest? 1066AD.  Now again, what is the state capital of Hawaii?….”  I can still recite poems that I had to memorize for a school assembly in 1968!  We learn through hearing things repeated again and again, until the idea or fact becomes part of our memory.  I am willing to bet that you remember things you learned as a child, because you had to repeat it over and over again.

In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus is giving some final instruction to the 12 Disciples before he sends them out on their missionary journey; he has already told them where to go, “Don’t go into Gentile territory.  God instead to the lost sheep of Israel”, he has told them what to do, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast our demons”, he has told them how to travel, “take no bag for the road, no second cloak, no sandals, no stick”.  Jesus has warned them of the dangers they will face, he warns of persecution, of floggings and trials before courts and tribunals.  I always imagined the Disciples nervously glancing at each other, wondering what they had gotten themselves into, “Did he say floggings?”

The last thing that Jesus tells the Disciples is the key to their mission and the reason why they are going out as lambs into the midst of wolves, Jesus says, “Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.”  Remember what I said about learning through repetition?  Did you notice that the word “welcome” occurs six times in two short verses, six times!  Jesus is really drilling it into their heads, and ours too, that the mission of the followers of Jesus, the mission of the church, is about Welcome.  We are part of that mission too, the mission that began over 2000 years ago.  Our mission, as God’s people andfollowers of Jesus Christ, is about hospitality and welcome.

Hospitality and welcome, are not so much an act or a gesture toward others, but an orientation toward life.  If we show true hospitality to another person we are moving well beyond surface politeness and social courtesy.  Our openness in hospitality and welcome to others, and particularly to strangers, mirrors our souls openness to God.  The habit of opening ourselves in hospitality and welcome to others is a primary way that we grow up into the likeness of Christ. We, as Christian people, should practice hospitality and welcome not merely because we have been commanded by Jesus to do so, but because it is a means of transformation into the kind of people God created us to be.  Hospitality then is not only for the sake of the person receiving the caring and welcome, but also for the giver.  Truly, loving God without loving our neighbor is ultimately impossible; God’s love cannot be kept just for ourselves, if we truly love God we are compelled to share it with our neighbors.

The question we should be asking our selves is what does hospitality and welcome look like, here at Our Savior?  How can we show the welcoming love of God in Chinatown?  Jesus does not demand elaborate and costly displays of hospitality – even giving “a cup of cold water to one of these little ones” will result is God’s favor and reward.  I think we like to think of ourselves as a welcoming, friendly church, but we are not called to sit behind these doors and wait for people to come to us so we can welcome them.  We are sent by Jesus from this place every Sunday, out into the streets of this community to share God’s hospitality and welcome.  At the end of the service we are dismissed with the words, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. The power and energy of the message we have to share is amazing and life-changing.  We can show God’s love and healing to people who are in loneliness and pain, it can touch our own lives with hope and healing and it can revitalize the ministry here at Our Savior.

God’s love is that amazing thing that gets bigger the more you give it away.  So how are we going to “give it away” here at Our Savior?  When you look around in your life where do you see your community in need?  Where are people hurting?  Where is God’s love needed; by children? young families? senior citizens? new immigrants? the unemployed? by single people struggling to make a connection? The answer is YES, God’s love is needed by everyone.  At Our Savior our only questions are how, when and where.
I am going to ask every one of you to do something special this week; I am asking you to pray a simple prayer everyday.  You can pray in the morning, noon or evening, it doesn’t matter when you pray.  I have a copy of this prayer in Chinese and English for each of you. This prayer is a prayer of mission and it goes like this:

“Dear Lord, please show me how you want me to share
                         your love with others, and lead us at Church of Our
                         Savior, to show your welcoming love in Chinatown.  Amen.” 

And then wait in silence for 5 minutes (or more) and see what comes into your mind and heart.  If an idea for mission comes to you, share it with a vestry member or talk with me or send me an e-mail – don’t keep it to yourself.  I believe God answers the prayers of his faithful people, and that in the prayerful asking of all the members of this church, the missionary calling of Church of Our Savior will become clear.  I’m going to ask you next week if you have been praying for mission – you have fair warning! Seriously, the mission of the church is a matter for all the members of the church, not just the vestry or the priest.  All mission is begun and sustained in prayer – so get praying!  Amen.