As you know by now, Pastor Tim and I have named this, our third year of ministry with the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren, a year to focus on hospitality. Hospitality stems from Christ’s greatest commandments to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. At the end of October, we will have a worship series on hospitality as we explore how we as a church can be more hospitable to not only the stranger who walks through our doors or through our parking lot, but to each other.
When I was in seminary, I worked for an after school program called Girls Inc. It’s a wonderful program that seeks to equip young girls to be smart, strong and bold as they mature and grow. After school each day, the girls would come to the center where they would have opportunity to complete homework, play, and learn. One of the classes that the girls would take was an anti-bullying program called Allies. In this program, the girls would learn how to stand up for one another as allies, even if they weren’t best friends. They learned that while they don’t have to like everyone, they do have to respect everyone. They were taught the acronym “NTK” which aided the girls in learning how to speak to one another. Everything they said needed to fit the three criteria represented by this acronym: is it Necessary to say, is it Truthful, and is it Kind. If it wasn’t all three of these things, then the girls were encouraged to consider that it may not be appropriate to say.
This year, as we consider our call to hospitality, we may be quick to look beyond our own congregation as we welcome the stranger. This is a significant piece of hospitality but hospitality is also the way we interact with one another, even if (and maybe especially if) we don’t know each other as well. How we provide hospitality to one another as the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren will be something a stranger notices.
Twice a year at the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren we have a Love Feast. For many Church of the Brethren congregations this is still a profound and sacred time to be together as a church. The Ministers Handbook called For All Who Minister says, “Whenever the community gathers around the love feast tables they are reminded of the relationship of all disciples to one another and to the Christ they serve.”
Love Feast is an opportunity for us to gather as a congregation and live out Christ’s greatest commandment to love one another. We offer hospitality to one another by choosing to fellowship with one another. We offer hospitality to one another by worshipping together. And we offer hospitality to one another as we bend down and wash each other’s feet, reminded of Christ’s words, “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:1217).
You are invited, to put hospitality into practice on October 2nd at 5:00pm in the Fellowship Hall. Let us embody together our Lord’s greatest commandment to love God and one another.