Tag: welcome (page 1 of 2)

Neighboring Challenge, Day 5 – Accept & Pray

Within four houses of me any direction there live Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and Christians, Republicans, Democrats, single, divorced, young and old. Our neighborhood can be a cafeteria tray with square compartments that separate us, or we can go for “stone soup” where a mixture of unlikely ingredients makes for a delightful surprise.

In the first century there were many factions too. Jew, Gentile, Pharisee, Sadducee, Samaritan, Soldiers… We see an example of how God brings some of them together in Acts 10.

 

In Ceasarea there is a guy named Cornelius (a Gentile) who God speaks to.

Forty miles away in Joppa there is a guy named Peter (a Jew) who God speaks to.

God speaks to them both, but they would not usually associate with each other.

The Lord tells Cornelius to go get Peter.

The Lord tells Peter to go to Cornelius.

But first God spreads out a banquet before Peter and reassures him,  “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

In other words, Jesus death on the cross was for everyone, not just the Jews who followed a heck of a lot of rules the Gentiles didn’t (Like not eating  pork).

When Peter gets to Ceasarea Cornelius has gathered all his relatives and close friends.

Peter begins to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (Acts 10:34-36)

What does this say to us about our neighbors?

Neighboring challenge:

You may have Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics and more in your neighborhood. Take a minute and close your eyes. Picture God looking at each of them with great love.

Take a prayer walk around your neighborhood as a family. (Maybe after dinner).

  • Pray with thanksgiving.
  • Pray for neighbors of different faiths from yours.
  • Pray for the neighbors with needs you know.
  • Pray for the neighbors you don’t know.
  • Pray that your neighbors would see Jesus in you.

Right now we’re in the month of Ramadan. If you’d like to learn how to support your Muslim neighbors and pray for them, here are a couple of resources:

Searching for a Father: A Ramadan Prayer Guide

3 Ways to Support Your Muslim Neighbors

 

Love Leaves a Light On

Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is to leave a light on.

My little brother David, and my sister-in-law live in the small town where I grew up.  Their home is a turn-of-the-century house with a wonderful front porch – swing and all.

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My brother loved investing in others, especially teens. During her high school years, David built a relationship with Sada.

Sada was not going through a typical teen rebellion. A brilliant, reflective soul, she was struggling with deep issues of justice, truth, and grace. Sada was an extraordinary girl with an equally exceptional brain and giant heart. She needed a safe place to examine issues of her heart and soul, darkness and light.

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Refugees and Red Cups

Thanksgiving is a wrap, and it has finally snowed in Minnesota. It is the first Sunday in Advent. As I look out on the lake starting to slowly freeze, I write “Buy Christmas Tree” on my to-do list, but my mind is still reflecting on Thursday.

This was a “different” Thanksgiving for us. We were taken in as “refugees”, fleeing from a year of hard memories, looking for a different home in which to celebrate the holiday.

I looked down the long, long table filled with laughter and flickering candlelight, conversations amongst our “other family” and some people I’d never met before and I was so thankful.

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It was not the table of my hometown, not my immediate family, no brother David at the head, but still…we felt at home.

Because we were in a place of love and welcome and “There you are!”

There were hugs, and favorite dishes, “Tell me about…” and “I’m so sorry…”

You and I and those in refugee camps and on streets everywhere all long to be invited; to have a place at the table, to feel welcomed and loved and known. Continue reading

Soul Food for Halloween

Halloween is one of my husband’s favorite days of the year.  I know, odd for a pastor, right?

The pc answer should be Easter,right?  And yes, it’s the most important, but honestly, I think he likes Halloween because it brings him so much joy to welcome kids at our door with enthusiasm, handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single costume like they were the one and only.

He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

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Last night he took it to a new level.  He carried his rocking chair outside and our firepit along with a jack-o-lantern and a big basket of candy.  As I was watching him it struck me how much his posture towards the kids is like God’s towards us, only we usually miss it. Kind of like the dad waiting and watching for the prodigal son to come home. Continue reading

To All Those Who Didn’t Show

I wrote yesterday about the waiting on the Fool’s Bench at Easter.

As it turned out, I didn’t sit.  I stood near the door to church in the Great Room, craning my neck, looking over the shoulder of anyone I was talking to, hoping to see the shaved bald head of my next-door-neighbor and his blond wife walk in.

I prayed and prayed.  I saved seats at two (count ’em, two!) services, which did NOT endear me to those who did come and were tackling others for a spot, practically paying hard cash money so they could sit inside the sanctuary instead of in the overflow rooms.

It didn’t happen.  Yes, the other friend did show at an earlier service and I pray that she felt totally hogswaggled by the enormity of God’s love for her, but it’s hard not to focus on the ones who didn’t come.  photo-109

I’ve been thinking about them…All the friends and neighbors and co-workers and prodigal family members you invited to church this Sunday.  Or last.  Or any one of a bazillion times. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About God at Halloween

This is a re-post from two years ago.  I hope it’s an encouraging reminder this Halloween.


I think that Halloween is my husband’s favorite day of the year.  Odd, I know for a pastor.  The pc answer should be Easter,right?  But honestly, I think he likes Halloween best because there’s not much that brings him as much joy as handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single kid’s costume.  He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

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5 Things I’m Learning Around my Scarred Table

Tuesday we had a large group of people over for a BBQ in our backyard.  It was truly the perfect Minnesota summer evening.  Dry, 78 degrees, miraculously mosquito-free.  (for a minute I looked around thinking Jesus must be coming back).

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It was a delightful evening of good conversation and laughter, but it’s not like everything was perfect.  John burned most of the brats and 7 (yes 7!) people cancelled within an hour and a half of our start time.

It’s not like everything is always coordinated.  I’ve been known to use a hodgepodge of leftover holiday paper napkins.  Other times we’ve planned for outside but at the last minute rain has blown in or it’s been so hot and muggy we’ve had to frantically un-set and re-set for Plan B, everyone preferring to crowd in our small, but dryer, cooler house.  And I don’t always  usually handle this well.  Often I’m just a stressed out hot mess about change and flexibility.

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Who’s in, Who’s out, and the Last 10%, part one

Awhile ago I was sitting around a table with a bunch of people with job titles, and advanced degrees, accomplishments out the wazoo, and years of valuable experience.  And I felt like the outsider.  Not a valid contributor to the discussion.  A toddler sitting at the grown-up’s table.  Not a big deal.  It happens.  A good exercise in humility.  But it made me think…

I’m not a Bachelor/Bachelorette addict, but I have watched enough with my daughter, Maggie.  I know when the girl doesn’t get the rose and is in the back seat of the limo crying or angry, it’s not about losing the true love of her life.  It’s about not getting chosen.  Feeling “not good enough.”  Suddenly on the outside when others are still in.

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Isn’t this why reality t.v. is so popular?  We are a culture of insiders and outsiders.

We love judging.

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You’re (NOT) Invited!

Which of these do you like better?

“You’re invited!” or “Everyone’s welcome!”

Holy buckets!  There’s a big difference in my mind between those two phrases.

One is personal.  The other is just permissive.

There’s going to be a Girls’ Night out.  Or a BBQ.  Some folks doing Kareoke.  A church event.  Lots of people are going.  You know that because you’ve seen it on Facebook or read Tweets about it.

But you’re not invited.

If you asked, they’d probably say, “Sure, come!  Everyone is welcome!”  But that’s different from being personally invited.

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“You’re Invited!”

Aren’t those words magical?!  You feel special.  Included.  Valued.  There’s a sense of anticipation.

One of the things I love most about God’s character is that He is an inviter.  A “welcome to the party” God…  An “I’ve been waiting for you to arrive!” God… A “Come as you are” God…

He’s the Host at the Banquet, the Greeter at the door, the Provider of refreshment for those who are hungry and thirsty.

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