Have you seen the video clip posted by Jim Wallace of Sojourners Magazine from the new series on the History Channel, ‘The Bible’? In one scene Jesus sees Peter out on the Sea of Galilee, and boldly wades out into the water to Peter’s fishing boat. Peter is stunned and asks Jesus what is he is doing! Jesus responds by asking Peter to help him into his boat. And, then tells him to cast his net into the sea again to catch some fish. Peter responds rather cynically and says to Jesus there are no fish here today. But Jesus persists and Peter decides to throw his net back in the water. The net is filled with fish! This happened over and over again. And soon, Peter’s boat is filled with the fish he has caught.
In astonishment, Peter asks Jesus how this happened? Jesus responds to Peter with this invitation–come with me and I will make you a fisher of men. A fisher of men? Peter then asks a great question, “What are we going to do?” Jesus answers, “Change the world.”
Change the world! That began to happen as the early followers of Christ practiced radical hospitality. Mortimer Arias tells us that the remarkable explosion of Christianity in the first century was due not only to the proclamation of the gospel, but to the extraordinary quality of Christian hospitality. Can you think of a better way to make people feel loved and valued? All of us desire and need to feel accepted.
Trevor Hudson says, “Everyone of us hurt in some way or another. Some of us are caught up in broken relationships. Others struggle with addictions or compulsions of one kind or another. We all sit next to a pool of tears. Most profoundly, we all want to be whole and holy.”
The deepest way we can open our lives to the love of Jesus is to become honest about who we are. To paraphrase what Trevor Hudson days, “We are all recovering sinners. Those of us in the Christian community are invited to take our halos off and let God love us with all our imperfections. We experience freedom and joy when we discover we do not have to pretend to be perfect. Jim Somerville likes to say, ‘Jesus loves us just like we are and there is nothing we can do about it!” Now that is really good news!
You may have noticed that our little world in Richmond, Virginia, is changing. We have the opportunity to practice hospitality to others like never before. Immigrants and refugees have come to Richmond seeking a future with hope. Students come here from around the world to attend our universities. In Richmond you can meet just about anyone from any country in the world. This is a time to keep or eyes wide-open! People all around us are struggling with life and in need of a loving community. For those of us in the Christian community, this is an opportune time to love the people Jesus loves. Practicing hospitality may be the best way to show our love for others. Let’s make room in our lives for people who may seem different from us. They are our brothers and sisters and are created and loved by God. The Apostle Peter said it best— our job is to love and bless those around us (paraphrase from 1 Peter 3)!
Beginning April 7 thru May 5 we are offering the School of Radical Hospitality. We want to encourage and help one another practice loving people like Jesus did. You are invited you to ‘change the world’ beginning right here in Richmond! Our pastor, Jim Somerville, continually reminds us of mission, “We are trying to bring the kingdom of heaven to Richmond, Virginia.” There must be at least a thousand way to do that! Loving people through the practice of radical hospitality can be a journey of personal transformation! Come join us!
Schedule of Classes for the School of Radical Hospitality:
Sunday, April 7: Conversion of Life: Receiving God’s Love
Sunday, April 14: Hearts Overflowing with Love: Benedict’s Way of Love
Sunday, April 21: Hospitality in the Home, in the Marketplace, in Church, to the Earth
Sunday, April 28: Hospitality, Love, Practicing Forgiveness
Sunday, May 5: Bonus session: Celebration Dinner & “Developing a Rule of Life”
Benedict’s Way: Radical Hospitality, cost $12 (available now!)
Hospitality homework assignments