An Interesting Qualifying Statement

Another Sunday in Lent, another loooooong Gospel lesson from John that will tempt the preacher to ramble all over the place in an attempt to catch the myriad themes inherent in the story.  While I’m dealing with my visceral reaction to the way the disciples treat the man born blind (MBB) as if he’s just a theological prop to be debated and dissected, I’m choosing to write instead about an interesting qualifying statement made by Jesus.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9.5)

You’ll recall from the Prologue to John’s Gospel, a text Episcopalians hear read every First Sunday after Christmas, that one of the key components of Jesus’ identity in John is that of light.  In that great cosmic poem, Jesus is described as “life and light” (1.4-5) and “the true light which enlightens everyone” (1.9).  Later, as Jesus continues to be challenged by the Pharisees, he claims for himself the role of light bearer, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (8.12).  Yet here we are, merely a chapter later, it seems like Jesus is claiming that his light can be extinguished.

As we round the halfway point in Lent, having now passed through the awful right of passage known as “Daylight Saving Time” and now on the other side of the vernal equinox, the season seems to be all about growing light, while our feelings will be all about growing darkness as we head toward the noon hour on Good Friday when darkness fell over the whole earth.  So, which is it?  Light or dark?

Truth be told, by now I’ve done what the disciples did to the MBB.  I’ve created a theological straw man to prove a preconceived point.  See, Jesus will die on Good Friday.  It will get dark.  Very dark, but darkness and death will not have the final word.  The light of the world will shine through the resurrected Jesus, and continues to shine through his Body, the Church, even to this day.  Jesus may be ascended to the right hand of the Father, but he hasn’t left the world, he is still very much with us and in us, and his light continues to provide hope in the midst of darkness that threatens us from all sides.  The qualifying statement of Jesus is only a qualifying statement if we don’t believe in the continuity of his message and the holiness of his Church.  If we do believe these things, then the ramifications are clear, as members of Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, we are the light of the world.

Now, to figure out how to be light.  Thankfully, Jesus told us about that just a few weeks ago.

Worthless!?!

I loved my time at Virginia Theological Seminary.  I made life-long friendships.  I was formed as a priest.  I learned and stretched and grew.  I enjoyed the vast majority of my three years in Northern Virginia, but the truth of the matter is that it wasn’t a great time in the academic life of VTS.  I took Liturgics from a preeminent Episcopal Church historian.  I took Church History from a theologian who ran back to parish ministry about as fast as he could.  There was no Pastoral Theologian on the faculty for two of my three years and when they finally hired one, she was a Presbyterian who didn’t much know our Prayer Book.  My Systematic Theology courses were taught by a Bishop who liked to tell stories and a guy with a faked Ph.D.  The Biblical Studies faculty was probably top-5 in the country, but, well, some things were left lacking in the end.  Despite those flaws, I wouldn’t say my time at VTS was worthless.  No, it was actually very worthwhile.

It was worthwhile because sometimes you learn amazing things from people working outside of their fields or from Bishops who have wined and dined with religious leaders from Moscow to Rome.  Take, for example, Bishop Dyer’s explanation of God’s grace (roughly paraphrased). By the very nature of your creation, God has hired you for a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day a year job to build the Kingdom on earth.  When, for so little as a second, you fail to do that work, which we all fail to do, there is no possible way to make up that debt as you are already fully committed to the work at hand.  Someone needs to help you out by filling in those extra seconds, days, months, and years.  This, in Bishop Dyer’s explanation, is what Jesus did on the cross, he worked overtime and brought the Kingdom to earth.

I’m reminded of all of this by the Gospel lesson for Sunday, in which Jesus uses a very difficult word to describe his fellow human beings.

worthless

worthless

“When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

That’s a tough word to swallow.  Forget for a moment the implications for the first 250+ years of America’s history and the slave trade, and just think about the deep psychological power of the word “worthless.”  I desperately scoured through BibleWorks to find that Greek word meaning something else, but I kept coming back to “useless, worthless, good for nothing, and unprofitable.”  From my research elsewhere, I’m pretty well convinced that God does not see us as worthless.  I mean, “he so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.”

So, dear reader, I’d like your help.  As Jesus talks to his disciples here in Luke 17, what is the point of this hyperbole?

 

How Much Should I Make The Check Out For?

As I noted on Tuesday, this Sunday’s Gospel lesson is a bit sticky for Episcopalians, especially those who hold Episcopal Office and like the color purple, but as I’ve reflected on this text this week, I’ve come to realize a group for which this lesson is even more difficult to hear and preach.

The ELCA has Bishops too!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Lutheran Bishop are the group most likely to find difficulty with the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  Not only to they like that purple-ish color their Episcopal brethren and sisteren are so fond of, but the guy who got the whole thing started, Martin Luther, was the guy who coined the phrase of “sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia,” Only Scripture, Only Faith, and Only Grace.  With a clear nod to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (2.8) which reads, “we are saved by grace, through faith.”

If you read the lesson carefully, it sort of sounds like Father Abraham is espousing some sort of works righteousness.  As in, Lazarus suffered and that suffering earned him passage to the bosom of Abraham, but Dives ignored the poor, which earned him a ticket straight to Hades.  The observant listener will quickly pull out their checkbook and ask, “how much do I need to give to get to heaven?”

The challenge grows when coupled with the tail end of the lesson from First Timothy, which reads, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”

The savvy preacher will figure out how to allow their parishioners the time to write their checks before reminding them that Luther was, in fact, right; that we are saved by the grace of God and faith in Jesus Christ; that nothing we can do (i.e. no matter how big the check), we cannot earn our way into heaven.  Still, it is a tricky lectionary this week, full of chances to slip down the slope of good old fashioned Medieval Popery.  Good luck preachers.  I’ll be praying for you.

The Color Purple

As an Episcopalian, I can’t help but read the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus without at least a small chuckle about the reference to the rich man’s attire.  With a linen suit hanging in my closet, this parable hits really close to home, but even more so, I get a kick out of the reference to the rich man wearing purple.  For those of you who aren’t a part of the early-21st century iteration of Anglicanism, perhaps a photograph would help.

 

What color is that shirt?

Purple.

Linen.

Fine Foods.

We’ve got that all covered in The Episcopal Church.  Some two-thousand years after Jesus told this parable, I wonder if we are still tuned into the deeper meaning of the details of the story.  Take the color purple for example.  These days, purple shirts are sold everywhere.  You can get a purple polo from the Rescue Mission for less than $2.  There was a time, a long time in fact, when purple clothing was exorbitantly expensive.  The dyes used to make a purple shirt were hard to come across and the color was even harder to set.  I heard a story this summer about how purple became the color of Lent in some parts of the world, while it is blue in other places.  It seems that the original color of Lent was black, but black rarely stayed that color.  In some portions of the globe, the berries used to made black faded into purple, elsewhere, they faded to blue.  Deep colors weren’t for the faint of heart in the olden days.  So this man, who wore purple, was exceedingly rich, and more than likely a member of some royal family.  (Hence the purple in Bishop’s attire as they were once considered the princes of the Church (though it seems that Anglican Bishop’s took to purple much later than their Roman Catholic brethren, but I digress).  Not only did he wear richly colored fabrics, but he had access to linen as well.  Like purple dyes, linen was (and still is) very expensive to obtain.  To say he was well dressed would be an understatement.

Then there is the matter of his food, about which Jesus says “he feasted sumptuously every day.”  This is an attempt by the translators to make sense of the Greek that is two words joined together: euphraino, which means “to make merry or to be glad”; and lampros, which means “magnificently or sumptuously.”  He “made merry brilliantly” according to Robertson’s Word Pictures, or to borrow a modern colloquialism, this guy partied hearty every day.  I assume most of us can understand the nuance in this phrase.  Think about how you eat on a normal day: three meals and maybe a snack – perhaps a dessert on a special occasion.  Now, think of the last Super Bowl Party you attended.  You probably ate 3 or 4 times more than you normally would.  You grazed on delicious snacks all afternoon, while waiting for the main course to be served and having two too many beers.  Or maybe Thanksgiving is your feast of choice.  This guy ate like it was Thanksgiving Day, all day, every day.

The comparison Jesus sets up here isn’t the difference between an upper-middle class guy and his lower-middle class neighbor.  Instead, Jesus lays down an example of extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  Something like this picture from Rio De Janeiro.

I’m wondering this morning if the extreme nature of Jesus’ example makes it easy to dismiss this story as we think, “Oh, I’m not THAT rich.”  What is the purpose behind such an outrageous dichotomy?  As an average American, what can I take away from this parable?

I love good foreshadowing

We are well into our trip with Jesus on his single-minded journey to Jerusalem.  Yet, we still have a good two months to go until Advent arrives and the new Church Year begins.  It’ll be six months or more until we arrive at Holy Week and hear the end of the story, and by then, we’ll be in Matthew’s Gospel.  So, it is helpful to get a reminder every once in a while of what is really going on in the lengthy trip we’re taking with Jesus.

This Sunday’s Gospel lesson gives the preacher a good opportunity to reflect on where we’re going.  The story itself is eminently preachable, You’ve got a chance to talk about Hades and hell and the reason why one is referenced in this parable and not the other.  You can preach about the disparity between the rich and poor.  You can try to dance around works righteousness in a parable the sounds an awful lot like, “if you help the poor you go to heaven.”  And of course there is the, “if you read the Bible, you’ll know what you should do” line from Father Abraham.  Any one of these could be 12 minutes of gold, but what strikes my fancy here on Monday afternoon is the foreshadowing that Jesus sneaks into the parable right at the end.

The rich man, sometimes called Dives, is arguing with Abraham about warning his five brothers of their impending doom and says, a’la Ebeneezer Scrooge, “if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  Father Abraham replies, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

What a scathing accusation for Jesus to make as he approaches Jerusalem and the cross.  He has began to argue more frequently with the Pharisees and Scribes.  They think Moses and Prophets say one thing, but Jesus suggests they are saying something very different (Sounds like our current religio-political climate).  The Scribes and Pharisees simply close their ears and shout “I can’t hear you!”  The underlying assumption for them is that if God really wanted to get their attention, he will, but what Jesus knows and foreshadows in this parable, is that even a man coming back from the dead won’t change the minds of those who have closed their eyes, ears, and hearts to the Lord.  We are still en route to Jerusalem this week, and I’m thankful that Jesus snuck a reminder in to his parable.

Post No. 1,500!

According to the good people at WordPress, this post is number 1,500 in the life of Draughting Theology.  Somehow, over the course of the last seven years and four months, I’ve found 1,500 things to write about.  Thanks be to God that the Scriptures are living and active so that there is always something new to say about God’s ongoing self-revelation in and with and through each of us.

I realized this feat late yesterday afternoon and asked my Facebook friends if they had any suggestions for the big post.  Mostly, they were smart alecks, suggesting topics they knew would get me riled up, but I’ve decided to address all of their challenges quickly today before moving on to a more serious post.

  • Thoughts on the Oxford Movement? – In its original intent as a holiness revival with the Church of England, I can find not fault with the Oxford Movement, but as is always the case, the second and third generation took it to an extreme that its founders probably never imagined.  So Oxford Movement – generally good.  2nd Generation Ritualism – bad.
  • Low Churchman’s Guide to Anglicanism – Read the 1549 Prayer Book and notice what Cranmer was trying to do before the influences of the mainland ruined the 1552 iteration.
  • 1,500 more – I will with God’s help.
  • Free Will or whether pets go to heaven – nope, not gonna get sucked in.
  • Video Blog – I don’t like the sound of my own voice on our sermon podcasts, ain’t no way I’m gonna video tape myself.
  • A Satirical High Churchman’s guide to the low church celebration of communion – that would be fun, but the target market is quite small.
  • Scrabble – it goes with the header – A little known fact about me is that I was a member of the Scrabble Club in High School.  I was terrible at it then and still am now, but it was as silly a club as any for all of my friends to sign up for en masse.
  • 24 hours of glory and praise in the middle of the muck – leave it to my Rector to offer a serious challenge, I’ll come back to this in a moment.
  • When are you going to write your *expletive* book – I’m guessing never, I just don’t see anyone paying to read what I have to say.  The truth of the matter is that I would write this blog even if nobody read it.  It has become a part of my spiritual discipline.  When I miss my four posts a week, as I’ve done often recently, I notice it.  Life isn’t the same if I’m not engaged in reading and writing on the Scriptures.  I’m doubly blessed that a handful of you read this thing each day, that you keep me accountable to write, and that you pray for me when I’m absent.  Thank you.

Now, back to TKT’s challenge: 24 hours of glory and praise in the middle of the muck.  I feel like maybe this is how I can begin to understand how Jesus would be so bold as to leave the 99 behind in order to find one lost sheep.  Every time my phone has rung recently it has been either bad news or an expensive fix or both.  Moving in to a brand new house should have been a joyful experience, but instead it has been one headache after another.  So today, thanks to Keith’s challenge, I’m leaving the 99 problems behind to seek after that one bit of good news: God loves me and cares for me and is walking with me.  Who knows, by the end of today, maybe heaven will rejoice as I once again turn from my sin of worry and stress and frustration and self-centeredness and return to the fold of God’s presence.  It all starts with thanksgiving.

So thank you dear reader for being a part of my life.

They Grumble. I Give Thanks.

I love the way the Gospel lesson for Sunday opens up.  It follows quickly on the heels of Jesus’ attempt at reverse marketing that we heard read last Sunday, where he listed all sorts of things that would keep someone from being his disciple.  You know, stuff like: family, life, and material possessions.  It seems amazing then that two verses later, we hear that “All the tax collectors and sinners were coming to listen to Jesus.”  Seems they had nothing to lose.

The Pharisees and Scribes, however, were not impressed.  Luke tells us they were “grumbling” about with whom Jesus was hanging out.  “This fellow welcomes sinners!  He eats with them!”  This is not the way a proper Rabbi was supposed to act.  They knew it.  Jesus knew it.  Even the sinners and tax collectors knew it.  Which is probably why they chose to hang out with Jesus in the first place.

The Pharisees and Scribes grumble at Jesus’ choice in road trip mates, but I give thanks.  If he didn’t welcome sinners and eat with them, I’d be up a creek without a paddle.  There’d be no salvation for me.  There’d be no hope for the future.  And the eating thing is big in the Church, even more so in sacramental churches like The Episcopal Church, in which I am ordained as a priest, commissioned to feed from the Lord’s Table sinners and the outcast.

Thank God that Jesus hung out with people like me.  Thank God he chose to eat with them.  Thank God he gave up his life for them.

The Cost of Discipleship – A Sermon

You can read it all below, or listen to it by clicking this link.

There is a rather famous story in the Bible about Jesus meeting a rich, young, ruler as he traveled the road on his way to Jerusalem.  Essentially, the story goes that this young man approaches Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus, being a good Rabbi, tells him to keep the commandments.  The young man claims to have been a keeper of law since childhood, and so Jesus invites him to do one more thing, “sell everything you have and give it to the poor… Then come, follow me.”  The man was taken aback by Jesus’ advice and walked away from Jesus quite sad.  I love that story because of how easy it is to explain it away.  “Oh, Jesus wasn’t talking universally, but rather giving very specific directions to just one would-be disciple who had a bit too much pride and a whole lot of money,” is the easiest and best way to preach that story.  It is a nice, safe interpretation because it doesn’t demand anything of us except to shake our heads and say, “boy, I’m glad I’m not like that guy.”

Preaching devotion to Jesus in this way has become something of the American Way as Christianity continues a three-decades’ long shrinking process and the Church tries its best to “sell” discipleship as easy, fun, and a free eternal life insurance policy.  What any marketer worth their salt should know, however, is that people don’t put much value on things that are cheap and easy.  It seems to me, then that the church marketing strategies of the past 30 years have accelerated the decline of church membership by telling people, “we know that you’ve got better stuff to do with your lives, but if you’re bored, scared, or need to get your kids sprinkled with water, stop by for a quick dose of Jesus in a box.”  The lie that faith in Jesus is easy has lead two generations to leave the Church in search of better challenges.  Worse yet, when we water the faith down enough, the Church has nothing to say when the going gets tough, and so people have left in droves over illnesses, financial stresses, and family struggles because nobody could tell them that Jesus was there, even in the hard stuff.  And so, I am extremely thankful for the Lectionary folks who have forced preachers to deal with the difficult stuff that Jesus says by assigning Luke 14:25-33 for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.  In my Harper-Collins Study Bible, this passage is subtitled, “The Cost of Discipleship,” and if you’ve been serious about following Jesus for more than a few weeks, you’ve probably begun to realize that being his disciple is neither easy nor cheap.

Our story begins with Jesus continuing his single-minded journey to Jerusalem.  He’s been doing a whole lot of healing in recent days and the crowds around him have swelled to a large number.  Here, it seems Jesus has three options: military, con-man, or the Kingdom of God.  He could turn to the crowd and say, “follow me to Jerusalem where we’ll storm the palace and restore YHWH to the throne!”  This would have been received by shouts of joy as his army grew by the thousands, but he didn’t do that.  He could have turned around and said, “from now on, if you want to be healed, it’ll cost you 30 Denarii and I’ll pass a plate around after my sermons for a free-will offering.  My guess is that Jesus could have retired to Cyprus in about a week, but he didn’t do that either.

What he did instead was to continue to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God while emphasizing that the Kingdom requires sacrifice.  For his part, Jesus will take care of the once and for all sacrifice of the cross and resurrection, but his true disciples will be called upon to live sacrificially: they will be called upon to follow his example of single-mindedness and live for Christ alone.  Jesus lays out for the crowd the true cost of following him so that they might fully understand what they are getting themselves into.  First, Jesus tells them that they should be people of “hate.”[1]  Now, hate is a strong word: so strong a word that we weren’t allowed to use it in my house growing up.  Yet here, Jesus uses it as a descriptor of his disciples.  Hate your father and mother.  Hate your wife and children.  Hate your brothers and sisters.  Hate your very life itself!  As in the story of the rich young ruler, many have tried to water this down for more palatable consumption.  The New Living Translation, copyright 1996, went so far as turn the words of Jesus upside down, “If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters– yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”  As much as we might want this to be a bad translation of Jesus, the truth of the matter is that Jesus says “hate,” and uses the strongest verb at his disposal to do so.  Unless you despise your father, mother, sister, brother, wife, and children, even your very life, you cannot be my disciples.

There is a long tradition of hate in the Bible, but not in the “I hate the New England Patriots” sort of way we think of today, but rather as an idiomatic way of showing degrees of devotion.  As in, I love the NFL, but I hate College Football.  In reality, I love all football, but even after six years in Alabama, I still prefer the games on Sunday.  What Jesus is getting at by calling his disciples to be a “people of hate” is an attempt at trying to eliminate the secondary distractions that would pull us away from Kingdom living; even those most essential elements like family and even one’s very life.  While it is hard for us to hear Jesus use such strong language, it would have been downright radical for the large crowd gathered around him in the year 32.  Family was all anyone had in those days.  Family was your first obligation and you only retirement plan.  To call upon his followers to leave family behind, as Jesus himself had done, was to rip apart the very fabric of the 1st century economic system.  As they said on Sermon Brainwave this week, “It is no wonder they killed this guy in the end.”

Jesus goes on to tell the crowd that in order to be his disciple they must, “give up all of their possessions.”  This is awfully reminiscent of the story about the rich young man I talked about earlier, but here there seems to be a whole lot less wiggle room.  “None of you can become my disciple,” Jesus says to the large crowd following him.  That seems to include everyone.  Even you.  Even me.

You can’t be a disciple if you don’t give up everything you’ve got. Maybe he is talking about stuff.  Maybe Jesus actually means we should live in communes and share everything.  Or maybe, and quite frankly, hopefully, it means that we shouldn’t be tied to all of our stuff.  Maybe as long as we are chasing bigger houses, better cars, or the latest Apple release, we can’t really be focused on Christ.  Maybe as long as we are seeking after letters behind our names, zeros on our paychecks, or job titles, we can’t really be seeking after the Kingdom.  Maybe as long as are paying attention to what the Jones’ are up to, we can’t be paying attention to what God is doing in and through and for us.

Maybe discipleship really means hating everything of this world and living a single-minded life of devotion to the one who came to save us from our distractions, who set us free from sin and death, and who calls us to follow him: through the good and bad, even through the shadow of the valley of death.  If it sounds difficult, it is.  If it sounds foolish, it is, but like the rich young ruler, each of us has a choice.  We can take up our cross and follow Jesus toward life, or we can turn around and walk away unhappy.  Choose life, my friends.  It is the most excellent way.  Amen.


[1] Emerson Powery. “Commentary on Luke 14:25-33” http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1755 (accessed 9/5/2013)

You can’t be my disciple

One of the drums that I beat with regularity is the “Jesus wasn’t about things you can’t do” drum.  Having come of age in a fairly conservative Episcopal Church while attending a very conservative Young Life fellowship, I know a thing or two about the lists of things that Christians can’t do.  Things Christians can’t do include: drinking, smoking, dancing, having sex outside of marriage, listening to rock music, hanging out with non-Christians, not not share their faith (to whom, I’m not sure since everyone you hang out with is a Christian), doing drugs, cheating on tests, playing soccer on Sundays, cursing, being gay, or worshiping in an Episcopal church; to name a few.

As a reaction against that mindset, I’m allow about what being a disciple of Jesus frees us to do: living into the fullness of our created humanity, giving generously, loving our neighbor, sharing our hopes and joys, etc., etc.  So imagine my joy as I read the Gospel lesson appointed for Sunday as saw it end with this sentence, “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

You can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless you give up all your possessions!?!  I’m not sure I signed up for this.  I mean, I’ve done a pretty good job of dancing around that time where Jesus tells the rich, young ruler to sell everything he has an give it to the poor.  Obviously, that was a very specific thing Jesus told just that guy to do.  But here, there doesn’t seem to be much dancing around this one.  “None of you can become my disciple,”  Jesus says to the large crowd that was following him.  That seems to include everyone.  Even me.

Maybe it is about stuff.  Maybe Jesus actually means we should live in communities and share everything.  Or maybe, and quite frankly, hopefully, it means that we shouldn’t be tied to all of our stuff.  Maybe as long as we are chasing bigger houses, better cars, or the latest Apple release, we can’t really be focused on Christ.  Maybe as long as we are seeking after letters behind our names, zeros on our paychecks, or job titles, we can’t really be seeking after the Kingdom.  Maybe as long as are paying attention to what the Jones’ are up to, we can’t be paying attention to what God is doing in and through and for us.

At least, that’s what I hope he means.

Welcoming People In

Tomorrow afternoon, SHW and I will close on our new house.  It is only four miles from our old house, still within the Foley city limits, but this house has the potential to change the way we live.  Quite frankly, the house to probably too big for us, but isn’t that the American way.  Certainly, the house is a gift, we couldn’t afford it without help offered, unsolicited (I add to make myself feel better) from family.  Because it is such a gift, hopefully it will be easy to remember that we are merely stewards of a great home and that its true purpose is to be a place of hospitality.  See, what sold me on the house was the vision our Real Estate Agent gave of a dinner party for young adults in our parish.  Drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen, the Alabama game on in the living room, and dinner on the sprawling back porch.

As we prepare to move into this big (not) ol’ house this weekend, Jesus admonition to the dinner guests is front an center in my mind.  How can we set up our new home so it is truly a place where we can welcome people in?  How do we make it a place of hospitality, not for those who we hope will see our house and be impressed, but especially to those who often aren’t invited in to other places?  How do we order our lives in order to be considered righteous at the day of resurrection?

Of course, these questions can and should be expanded to our common life and ministry at Saint Paul’s.  In what ways are we open for the business of welcoming people in?  In what ways to be appear to close the door on those who come seeking to meet the risen Lord?  How are we doing at inviting those who often go uninvited into our midst?  Who do we routinely ignore?

Jesus was big on hospitality, which means we probably should be too.  How can you order your house or your church in order to be more open to the stranger?