I know this is hard to believe. In my home congregation, we always ran out of food at church potlucks. It wasn’t because of our large Midwestern appetites. Try as she might, my mother offered more than one casserole and dessert. Still, we didn’t have enough. We were a congregation that practiced scarcity. It wasn’t only our table that was bare. Hospitality was limited to those who believed and acted “like us.”
There is a world of difference between my home congregation and Zion. The way in which members of a congregation reproduce the love of God through genuine hospitality and a love for one another will indicate whether they are the body of Christ or simply a religious club.
We were recently challenged to grow in abundance, hosting the Grand View University Choir. We could have donated day old sugar cookies and called it good. Instead, our reception was laid out like a banquet, a delicious fiesta of delicacies. We were asked to host 38 choir members and staff. Again, it would have been enough to leave the light on, provide a place to sleep, and leave the students to their Snapchat. Instead, stories with their hosts abound about side trips around the city, from mountaintops to Antelope Island.
We are called to be a community of generosity, living in abundance, sharing hospitality. Watch how we shared the gift of music in our Children’s Choir Day with Calvary Baptist Church. See the youth from neighboring congregations and how the Spirit shaped a new sense of community through their shared day of service. Listen to our witness, proclaiming hospitality for all God’s children, advocating for refugees and families separated by punitive immigration policies. Remember again what it means to be “a new creation in Christ” with our welcoming statement, especially with the LGBTQ+ community.
Hospitality is not a small or quick task. It is a continuous and sometimes strenuous way of life. And, as our Lord knows, our yen is to hold onto personal preferences and private needs.
I know this is hard to believe. Our hospitality comes from Jesus, himself. As he breathed on those disciples on that first Easter evening, he now breathes into us: “Peace. Receive the Holy Spirit.” In that breath we share a new sense of grace, a banquet table of hospitality, and the generosity of our cup that overflows.
In and through Christ,
Pastor Steve Klemz
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CONNECTING THROUGH GRACE
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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
1070 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108