Being welcomed is a great experience. When we are welcomed into places such as a new home, neighborhood, workplace, school or parish, we feel accepted, cared for and supported. The Scriptures for this Sunday are stories of welcome and hospitality. The prophet Elisha is given his own room in someone else’s house (Kings 4:8-16). In the Gospel, Jesus says that those who welcome his disciples welcome him and even the simple act of giving a cold cup of water to someone will be rewarded (Matthew 10:37-42). In the Letter to the Romans, Paul gives us the reassurance that through our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus, we will one day be welcomed into the newness of his life and glory (Romans 6:3-11).
The gift of the room provided for Elisha invites us to welcome blessings into our lives. Sometimes we get focused so much on our problems or so involved in our many activities that we fail to notice and embrace life’s blessings. I know a priest who will not listen to a person’s problems until they first name their blessings. We know the phrase, “Count your blessings.” Do we?
Paul’s admonition to think of ourselves as dead to sin and alive for God in Christ beckons us to welcome hope into our lives which are often bombarded with negativity and pessimism. The world is full of the poison of hate, bitterness, jealousy, cynicism, deceit, racism and prejudice. It is easy to allow these into our lives. Eventually they can influence our daily attitudes and actions. The way to hopeful living is to welcome positive people, inspirational reading, beautiful music and wholesome entertainment.
Jesus’ directive to give somebody a cold cup of water prompts us to think about the people being welcomed into our lives these days. Sometimes we get stuck in our own circle of family and friends. Who might we be shutting out and how could we open the door again? Our 4th of July celebrations of freedom this week can urge us to welcome those who have been estranged either literally or in our hearts. What great days to welcome blessings, hope and people into our lives.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector