Practicing Radical Hospitality

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In September, our church celebrated “Tables for 8” with about 200+ people breaking bread together.  Lisa and I enjoyed a “house which runneth over” as we also welcomed about 20-25 kids into our home between the two dinners combined!  What a joy!

The next “phase” of our Radical Hospitality is taking it from the church seats out into the streets.  “Table of 8” was like a warm-up game for the real deal as our faith community longs to overflow with hospitality, community, and gospel conversations.  As Rosaria Butterfield indicates, “The gospel comes with a house key.”  For the early church, the home was a primary center of the expansion of the message and mission of Jesus.

Hospitality is Different than Entertaining

We must keep in mind that practicing radical hospitality is not the same as entertaining.  Entertaining is about rolling out a perfect meal with a perfect table setting at a perfect house of sublime cleanliness.  Entertaining points to the “self” -- either your culinary abilities or your cleanliness or your castle; in short, entertaining “makes much of you”.

Hospitality is different.  Hospitality is about others.  Hospitality listens to the guests; it is less about gourmet food or the state of your home and more about grace given, hurts shared, relationships strengthened, doubts heard, and common struggles faced together.  Hospitality makes much of community.

As Jen Wilkin says, entertaining aims to impress while hospitality’s motive is to bless.

Will you take up the joyful task of overflowing with radical hospitality into our community?  

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”  Romans 12:13

Thankful to serve a community that puts flesh on the gospel by practicing radical hospitality,

Pastor Jason Carter

Blog Tidbits on The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

On October 31, 2017, the Protestant Reformation turns 500 years old, commemorating the posting of the 95 Theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.  (To read the entire blog posts, click on the titles below)

The Reformation and the Glory of God (John Piper)

"The Reformers believed that only grace could raise us from the dead, and only Christ could become our punishment and our perfection. These two miracles—of life from the dead and wrath removed—could only be received as a gift through faith. They could never be merited or earned, all so that the entire transaction would culminate soli Deo Gloria—to the glory of God alone."

Did the Reformation Secularize the West? (Kevin Flatt)

"Once, in the Middle Ages, Western Christendom was united in a shared faith under a single Roman Catholic church. All areas of life were suffused with religious influence and significance, and it was almost impossible to disbelieve in God or live one’s life as if he were unimportant. But the Protestant Reformation came along and shattered this unity, creating deep, irresolvable disagreements about fundamental questions of authority, doctrine, worship, and morality—even among Protestants themselves. The resulting conflicts could and did turn violent, as the various groups persecuted each other and doctrinal disputes provided pretexts for religious wars.
These events had two unintended long-term consequences: the privatization of religion and the rise of religious individualism. Privatization said, in effect, if we can’t agree about religion, let’s keep religion out of the things we do together as a society—science, philosophy, commerce, government, education. Individualism said, since we can’t agree, let every man be his own judge in religious matters. While privatization led to the stripping of religion from the public square, individualism led to a breakdown in religious authority in the church and at home, ending in full-blown relativism: what’s true for you isn’t true for me, and you have no right to tell me what to do. Thus, in the long run, the Reformation removed religion from most areas of life and undercut the viability of local church communities rooted in shared beliefs. Or, in Clue terms, “The Reformation did it with religious divisions in the sixteenth century!"

Martin Luther: The Man who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Eric Metaxas)

I'm currently reading Martin Luther's new biography by Eric Metaxas who also wrote a thoughtful and engaging biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy".  The Metaxas biography of Luther is a good way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of our Protestant tradition.  Tolle lege -- "Take up and read!"

Slow is Beautiful

Spiritually-speaking, I want to grow. Growing implies movement. Movement implies progress. Progress can be measured. Progress means success.

If only the spiritual life were so easy.

The spiritual life is slow. I don’t do slow well. In fact, I hate slow.

The spiritual life is like mile 23 of a marathon: you can’t see the finish line, two people just passed you, and you begin to wonder “now…what am I doing this for”? (Take my word on it if you haven’t had the “privilege” of running a marathon.)

I’ve been struck lately about the slowness of the spiritual life. The never-arriving-part of the spiritual life. The I-wish-I-was-more _____ (wise, faithful, prayerful, generous…) part of the spiritual life. The-I-know-that-I-should-focus-on-Christ but it’s-so-easy-to-focus-on-self part of the spiritual life.

I want spiritual jumper-cables at hand at a moment’s notice to automatically put a spark in my life whenever the spark (seems) to fade away. I want to grow. And I want to do it yesterday. And I want to have learned that lesson already. And I want to have read those books three years ago. And I want to have said my prayers more intensely, more contemplatively, more faithfully, more articulately, more meaningfully.

I want to grow.

Yet, what if, in addition to using the word grow, we used words like rest and abide, celebrate and dance, commune and soak, serve and listen? What if the spiritual life isn’t about how high the tree grows but how strong the roots are? What if the spiritual life isn’t about how fast the tree grows but how many years it endures? What if the spiritual life isn’t about how beautiful the tree is but how many birds can find rest in its branches? (And maybe just 1-2 birds finding rest there is enough.)

Rest, abide, celebrate, dance, commune, soak, serve, and listen.

Maybe I’m thinking about growth all wrong.

Blog Tidbits

From time to time, I'll share some interesting tidbits from the blogosophere.  (Click on the titles below to read the entire blog post.) 

  "Do you Actually Want to Be Our Pastor?"

“But it didn’t take me long to figure out that lots of churches don’t actually want a pastor. They want a leadership coach or a fundraising executive or a consultant to mastermind a strategic takeover (often performed under the moniker of evangelism or missional engagement). In this scheme, there’s little room for praying and gospel storytelling, for conversations requiring the slow space needed if we’re to listen to love.
People criticize the church today as being consumeristic. And to some extent, churches cater to consumerism—often to our detriment. I agree that consumerism is a problem for Christianity.

But ironically, much of the dialogue about why people are done with church pushes people deeper into Christian consumerism than it pushes them into deeper discipleship: Here I am, all alone, worshipping God on my schedule when it’s convenient for me.

Listening to a podcast of your favourite preacher while you’re at the gym or on the back deck and pushing three of your favourite worship songs through your ear buds does not make you a more passionate Christ follower.

It usually makes you a less effective one.
Institutions are not a problem. But institutionalization is. An institution can enrich life, but institutionalization takes that good thing and turns it into death. How? The structure, the mechanism, the means, becomes the end. The institution itself takes on its own inherent purpose.