Pastor’s Note: Mindful Hospitality

Heads up church: Pastor Tom will be on vacation from February 8 – 20.

Tip for this week’s pastor’s note: Read Luke 10:1-42 in one sitting

For a shorter Read: Mindful Hospitality (Luke 10:1-20)

As we continue the journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke, the theme of mindful hospitality frames Luke 10.  In what becomes an early version of a short-term mission trip in the New Testament, 72 disciples are sent out two-by-two in an intentional canvassing of towns and villages (Luke 10:1). In typical Middle Eastern hospitality, the visitors are expected to be provided for in the homes they enter (hence there is no need to take money with them; Luke 10:4). As they are welcomed in,  the disciples apply a deliberate strategy to announce that the “kingdom of God is near.”  They are not to go “house to house” but to be mindful who would welcome them in.  While not everyone accepts them/Jesus/God (Luke 10:16; Luke 10:22), the trip is evidently a success  (Luke 10:17-20). Jesus reminds the disciples not to focus on their victory over Satan (who has lost his authority; Luke 10:18) but should instead be mindful that “their names are written in heaven.”

Evangelism through hospitality has always been a very effective way to reach out to neighbors. In suburban Metro west, we too can start reaching out to our neighbors on our street (or school or workplace) and discern who is open for a good conversation about spiritual matters and who is not. It takes time and patience and lots of love and kindness. But if we are mindful, the Holy Spirit will lead us to those who are open. The Lord will lead us to ‘men/women’ of peace, households who are receptive to hearing the good news of healing through forgiveness of sin.  The Alpha program, among others, was always designed to be offered in homes, rather than churches. So mindfulness of our neighbors is a start! And we too may be surprised how the Lord will open hearts!  We will also feel the rejection. Some will most definitely not be interested in hearing the news; at least for the moment.  In all these mindful attempts, we remember that the harvest has already been provided (“plentiful;” Luke 10:2).  Our job is to pray “earnestly” for laborers to go and reap our harvest here in Metrowest and throughout the world.

For a Longer Read: More on mindful Hospitality in Luke 10:25-37

Mindful hospitality continues to be powerfully illustrated through the parable of the good Samaritan (though he’s never called ‘good’ in this account; if anyone-or rather anything- is good in chapter 10, it is Mary who chose the “good” portion; more on that below). The story is well known: those two who should have helped the man in need didn’t, while the despised Samaritan is the one who obeys the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  The lawyer who tried to trick Jesus realizes  that the “neighbor” he should love is not only the man left for dead on this remote path from Jerusalem to Jericho (a 4664-foot vertical drop), but also the Samaritan.

Wadi Qelt – The Road from Jerusalem to Jericho

It’s a classic ‘gotcha’ moment because the Samaritans as an ethnic group were intensely despised. Their worship of God was completely misguided (a fact that Jesus himself never refutes; see John 4:22). In people’s minds at the time, these are not the proverbial ‘good guys’!.  The parable hits a powerful punch, across the ages and cultures: we ought to model the mindful kindness and compassion of the Samaritan who makes sure the wounded is given hospitality in the inn and given proper care.  We too proclaim the Kingdom of God through practical means and hospitality. But it’s also about loving our neighbors, even those who reject us as the Samaritans did with Jesus and His disciples only a few verses back in Luke 9:52-55.  In fact, this parable speaks as much to the Lawyer as it does to James and John and about Jesus who practices what he preaches.  You just never know who is the neighbor you and I are called to love; it might even include the ones who reject us!  After all, this is exactly what Jesus does with all of us!  Yet Jesus continues to warn that continued rejection of His message will also carry eternal consequences (Luke 10:13-16).  Jesus walks a line that allows Him to love His enemies, while at the same time affirm the dire consequences of rejecting Him. We too love in the sort of same dynamic tension: Love your neighbor, knowing full well some will reject the message of the Gospel (and entrusting that process of salvation to God alone, Luke 10:21-22).  Just as God keeps reaching to rebels (Isaiah 1:2), we do the same.  We, as the lawyer, just have realized that the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves just got a lot more complicated than we realized!

Post-Scriptum: A final mindful hospitality image (Luke 10:38-42)

How appropriate for the chapter to end where it began, inside the home of a “man of peace,” only now it’s two women who have received Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  “Martha Martha” is mindful alright but about the wrong things. Her sister Mary knows true mindfulness and sits “at the Lord’s feet.” What a well known and enduring reality.  Whether a sleepy First Century AD small settlement, or the hustle and bustle of a 21st Century world-class city like ours, how so very easy it is to get busy with all sorts of things and forget what the “good portion” is: to spend time with the Lord Jesus Himself.

Mindful Hospitality: invite people into your home and preach the Gospel; love the ones who have rejected you; and spend time in the presence of the Lord Jesus, in His Word, in quiet contemplation.