From the Pastor’s Desk…
“Epiphany reveals two truths. The first is that God really means business when God says that all are welcome. God is all about a manger scene that’s full of unlikely characters, full of unsuspecting worlds colliding and becoming the community of God. The second truth is that while God brings outsiders in, Herod stands in like a placeholder for all of us, revealing our propensity to become tight-fisted, selfish, and hostile when our privilege or status is challenged” Boundaries Rearranged, Gospel Message for Epiphany
Epiphany is one of my favorite seasons of the church year. Several years ago, I was in Mexico and observed that Epiphany was central to the culture and faith of the people. Plazas, buildings, homes, mercados and churches were decorated as if it were still Christmas. Poinsettias bloomed brightly and were everywhere. The excitement was infectious as seminary students struggled with their Spanish to connect with their host families to learn more about Día de Reyes or King’s Day. The unlikely teachers were our host families who were very poor, but that didn’t stop them from sharing with us all that was theirs to give. They were living out God’s truth that all are welcome to build the community of God.
I like to think that as St. Matthew’s, we offer that same kind of hospitality to those crossing our threshold, regardless of the occasion, or who the guest might be. Welcoming others into the community of God calls for us to put aside our prejudices, precepts, even our “entitlement” as those already part of the community. Welcoming others means to put aside catching up or sitting with our friends, to sit by and help the newcomer through the service and taking time to introduce them to others in our family of faith. Gracious hospitality doesn’t look for something in return but continues to offer freely the love of the kingdom. This is quite the opposite of what we encounter in this dog eat dog world we live in. Our push back to Herod’s world is to live in love and kindness, to look critically at ourselves and where we can do better.
Against all odds, Christ still came into the world. Three foreigners followed a star to Bethlehem and were welcomed into a place that wasn’t even the home of the hosts! The Magi brought precious gifts only the privileged could bring. I imagine that Jesus’ young parents were astounded when they arrived but still welcomed them into their humble surroundings.
As we enter into the time of Epiphany, let us remember to always extend to others a warm welcome into the community of God. Our hospitality is to be enveloped in the love of Christ, offering to those hungry for the spiritual food we’ve already been blessed with as the children of God.