August 29, 2012
There have been lots of introductions (and some second introductions) this first week of internship! The members of Como Park Lutheran Church have welcomed me with bright smiles, healthy curiosity, and kind wishes. This pleases me, but does not surprise me. You see, a few common phrases I have heard are: “Como Park is very warm and welcoming; you’ll fit right in” and “You will find that people that come to Como Park are really friendly” and even “You will just love the members of Como Park Lutheran; they’re good people with good hearts.” Dear reader, it might surprise you to know that those comments were not heard at Lutherans and Lattes, or over a brownie at the church picnic on Sunday, or before a Como Evening Prayer service. (Although a number of persons said similar things at those happenings.) No, those comments came from persons outside of the regular worshipping community…before I even arrived at 1376 Hoyt. But yes, living up to the reputation, dear reader, your welcome has been gracious.
Understanding that the congregation has spent some time mulling over Old Testament themes this summer, using the narrative lectionary for Scripture in worship, perhaps the story of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings is worth a read. The whole story is long and filled with joy and sadness, but 2 Kings 4:8-11 is enough for the idea of hospitality:
8 One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. 9 She said to her husband, “Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God.
10 Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 11One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. (2Ki 4:8-11 NRS)
This nameless woman not only welcomes Elisha when he passes through the area, not only invites Elisha to be a part of her household, the NRSV says she “urged Elisha” to eat with her family. Then she does something interesting. This astute hostess and her husband make a new space for Elisha—a place where he can stay, but also a space in addition to what was there before. His presence changes them. This family does not just make room, they actually make something new. The Scripture does not say that she does this because she wants something from Elisha—not rent or work,…not even a blessing. No, verse 9 lets us know that she creates space for Elisha because he is “of God”.
So I wonder after a week of “hi”s, handshakes, and hugs: Why do I welcome new faces? Why do you? And, I wonder after a week of dates, deadlines, and descriptions of Como Park’s participation in God’s mission: Can we be the space and make space for something new? How often do we expect something (or nothing) in return? How often are our actions for the stranger, the neighbor, the [you fill in the blank]…simply because she/he is “of God”? Some things I shall ponder on this week. Perhaps you might too.
Intern Pastor Amy
Posted in Weekly Words.