Hagerstown Church of the Brethren
15 S. Mulberry St., Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: 301-733-3565 * FAX: 301-733-3598

"Church in the Heart of the City with the City at Heart"
Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.

Pastor's Bookshelf - April 2017

God’s Welcome: Hospitality for a Gospel-Hungry World  by Amy Oden

For the season of Lent, a significant cross-section of our congregation has considered Amy Oden’s book which pushes Christians to the depths of hospitality. This has been a useful tool in HCOB’s year of hospitality and will be available for anyone to take home and read after Palm Sunday.  

Oden describes her book well, “This is a how-to book on hospitality, but not the kind that gives tips and tricks. This is the kind that gives roots” (p. 7).   This is a book about more than hospitality through name tags and cups of coffee, this book pushes us to consider the welcome that humanity receives from God and how we can share it with the guest.  Oden sets the  scene by saying that American Christian- ity has developed a reputation for being unwelcoming of certain groups and kinds of people, but at the core of Jesus’ story is an invitation to people of all kinds into the Kingdom of God.                     

Consider your own story of coming to the church and coming to faith in Jesus. How did Jesus welcome you into the faith?  Oden uses the story of the Abraham and the three divine strangers (Genesis 18) as well as the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) to illustrate the enthusiasm and richness of welcome. Will we go out of our way to welcome an unknown?

This book forced me to wonder if we have any idea what we are actually welcoming a new person into.  We think sometimes we welcome them into our programming when we are really welcoming them into a family.  People are hungry for a family. People are hungry for a gospel of love and hope more than they want just another thing to do.  If we become agents of God’s welcome, then our hospitality should look and feel more like the ultimate welcome of God than the tips and tricks we can learn from our culture’s hospitality industry.

Oden’s book will give roots to the welcome we can offer here at HCOB.  This is a hospitality of depth and substance for disciples to offer.