I’m not particularly gifted in hospitality. Actually the word “particularly” is probably superfluous to that statement! I once famously kept a friend of my flatmate’s on our doorstep for over an hour before it dawned on my that maybe I should invite the poor guy in. And maybe when I did I should have offered him a cup of tea or something while he waited. Don’t think I ever saw him again. I’m guessing he gave our house a wide berth from then on!
All these years later, I’m still learning the art of hospitality. This week I put my brave on and invited my neighbour who has moved here from China to lunch. Aside from meeting her when she first moved in and the occasional wave out I hadn’t done much more and it was bothering me. Yes language is a barrier, but she has been brave and moved to my country and she is in my neighbourhood. I could sit back and assume that others are extending invites and friendships, but what if everyone was assuming the same? I could also make excuses about the busyness of my life or I could simply step out and extend kindness myself.
Did it put me out of my comfort zone, stop me doing other things I wanted to do that day? Yes! Was I nervous? Yes! But sometimes living life is about us showing the grace of God to those around us. It’s about making space for those around us who might need it. It’s making room for new friends or talking to that person sitting by themselves at church or standing by herself on the sidelines. And while my action was simple it is something that God values and calls us to do.
At the end of the day, in a very quiet way, just maybe I made her day a little bit less lonely and mine a little richer.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)
Today was a two coffee day, actually a two coffee morning! And that made it a good day. Catching up with a friend for coffee at a café progressed to us checking out a couple of shops close by. That then led to the need to pause and what better place than another café with another delicious coffee in the hand. As I said it was a good day!
Actually what made it more of a good day was not so much the decadence of two coffees in a morning, but the company. There’s something to be said for connecting with a good friend. A friend who gets you, encourages you and inspires you. This was definitely one of those mornings! Encouragement, a listening ear, dreaming for the future and we were set for the day. The coffee and the shopping (did I really buy another handbag?!!) were really just the icing on the cake.
When we parted ways late morning, I pondered how time with God offers the same – heart cheered, spirit strengthened and encouragement given. And the blessing of God is that He’s there and available 24/7. The morning coffee was a precious time out scheduled around work, appointments, school runs, chores. God though is available at less than a moments notice no matter where, not matter when.
And while I’m wondering how the increased caffeine will impact my sleep tonight, I’m also looking forward to the next time I’m out for coffee which fortunately is only a few days away!
It would probably be true to say that not many of us will be unscathed by a betrayal or a hurt from a friend. Over the course of our lives most of us would have at some point been let down, hurt or betrayed by a friend. I know I have. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes intentionally. It can come in the form of public rejection or attack. At other times it is a subversive and quiet or maybe mean things are said for our ears only. Whatever the motive or reason, it has hurt. Whether a public or private act, it hurts.
As we lead into Easter, I have wondered how Jesus felt as first Judas publically betrays Him, and then Peter away from Jesus also denies Him. Jesus knew that Judas would be the one to turn him in, stating at the Last Supper that one of those closest to Him would betray Him. But still that must have hurt. That after walking alongside Jesus – seeing His nature, His love and compassion, the miracles even, that it would not be enough to stop Judas betraying Him. That would have hurt.
But I feel what must have hurt even more was Peter. Peter with his fierce loyalty to Jesus. Peter with his confidence in His love for Jesus. Protecting Jesus in the Garden, cutting off a soldiers ear. Following His voice and being the only one to get out of the boat and walk on water. Fierce in his faith. Yet, in dark hours leading up to Jesus crucifixion, he denied knowing Jesus. Self preservation yes, out of fear, yes, but betrayal still.
At the end of the day, we all fail. We all can cause hurt to those around us. But, because of Easter, because of Jesus we are forgiven. After His resurrection, Jesus forgives and restores Peter by asking Him three times how much did Peter love Him. 3 times for the 3 times the rooster crowed.
Forgiveness. Redemption. Restoration.
Forgive us Lord when we have hurt or betrayed others. And help us to extend grace and forgiveness to those who have hurt us. For Christ’s sake. AMEN.