This week I’ve been thinking about God’s welcome for me.
I’m not sure I’m very good at experiencing God’s welcome. I think I feel the responsibility of providing welcome and hosptiality to and for others, but I don’t always know how to experience it for myself. I think I need practice. I need to start watching and paying attention to the welcome and invitations of God.
What do we know about the welcome and hospitallity of God?
We talk a lot about how we are invited by Jesus to welcome the stranger, the least, the lost and the lonely. But what about how Jesus welcomes each of us? What does the welcome of Jesus, or the welcome of God look like in my life or in your life?
Would you recognize it?
How have you felt welcomed by God? Just talking about it feels a little awkward, right? Me, really? I don’t know what that is supposed to feel like.
Or how about this: God is in your life welcoming you right now. I have a history with God, as you do too. So, how have you seen or experienced the Welcome of God in the past?
Or better yet, how do you need Jesus to welcome you right now? These questions seem simple, but we so rarely ask them or even think about them. Does God really want to welcome me or you? It seems that we need to re-understand God’s love for us, right now, concretely. But I normally move on, and accomplish something instead of taking the time to connect. And I’ll bet you do too. It’s the same as having house guests. You actually need to look them in the eye, connect with them and show interest in them. So…imagine God doing that for you. God stopping, caring, asking, connecting with you. God breaks through shame and sin, and walks up to hug us.
I started thinking about what I know about the welcome and hospitallity of God…
God throws parties in honor of finding lost sheep
God gives us the best robe and a ring and kills the fatted calf in our honor even after we’ve squandered everything. Even in my/ your shame and disgrace,
God runs to welcome me and you!
Jesus invites us out of trees. Jesus invites himself over for dinner.
Jesus invites us to leave familiar territory and familiar tasks and follow him, and not just follow, but become his partner in living out the kingdom.
Jesus invites us to dine with him. Jesus washes our feet. Jesus surprises us when we aren’t expecting him. He just shows up and breaks bread and reminds us of his love. Jesus welcomes us with breakfast, he’s already prepared for us, when we didn’t catch anything all night. And Jesus reinstates our purpose even after we’ve betrayed him!
I’d say that’s real welcome and hospitalty!
It’s God’s gift to me and you.
Can I receive it from God?
How do I receive the hospitaliy of Jesus? How do I receive his hosptiality and the welcome he gives through other people? Do I , do you, miss the Welcome of God because we are too busy to notice?
So what do we do about this?
Just Start. Like always, right? Take Baby steps.
Give yourself permission to receive the gifts, receive the invitiations of welcome and hosptiality of God. Begin to practice receiving the welcome mats God puts out for you in the midst of your every day life. They are there if we’ll see them.
What if we began to practice sitting on the front porch with God? Or picking a spot of beauty where we can just be with Jesus on a regular basis. I actually have a picture I’ve cut out of a magazine that is my place to hang out and experience the welcome of God when I travel and cannot be in an actual space of beauty or on my porch.
Jesus says that he has gone to prepare a place for us, but what places has Jesus prepared for you and me right now? What place and people of welcome are in your life right now?
How can we experience more of God’s welcome?
The Welcome in the sunset or in a rainbow or in the calm after the storm.
The Welcome in the laugter of children.
The Welcome in the hug of a friend, or the kiss of a dog when you arrive home.
What if we begin to imagine Jesus preparing places of welcome for us everyday?
How would we view the world differently?
Let’s start paying more attention and being intentional about watching for God’s welcome mats for us!
- Draw a picture or look through magazines or photos on line, for a place that reminds you of the Welcome of God. Cut it out or print it out and use it as a reminder of God’s welcome and invitation for you to be with God!
Maybe it’s more than one place!
- What does it look like, feel like, smell like?
- What are the things that make you feel welcomed?
- Take some time today to talk to God about this!