The scripture passages we've been reading for the past few weeks, in Matthew, are intense. This week seems to be, well, like a tall drink of water. (Pun intended.) The disciples have just heard from Jesus about how they're to be sent out like lambs among wolves, to set families against themselves, to persecution and rejection and more. Then, he reminds them of his deep and knowing care for each one of them (really, for each of the hairs on each of their heads). Finally, he clarifies that the welcome others give to them will be welcome given to Jesus the Christ.
This is pretty intense: the disciples become Jesus' presence in the world. They are to be so filled with his Spirit that even a glass of water given to them will be like a glass of water given to Jesus.
They belong together, in their inmost being.
Pretty wild: as we're disciples, we get to be the physical body of Christ in the world.
And, then, we're reminded of how precious hospitality can be. How much we depend on it.
I read this text knowing that there are times when I'm able to feel like one of those disciples. And there are times when I feel like the one doing the welcoming. Or not, as the case may be.
Welcoming everyone who comes is a difficult thing; some people are hard to embrace. Yet, we're called to live into this beautiful and old tradition of providing hospitality to one another.
As we prepare for worship this week, I invite you to imagine who would be the most challenging person to welcome. And, begin praying that you could warmly welcome that person, and that they would be drawn to our church.
May it be so.