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Hospitality as one of God’s diverse gifts

December 19, 2023
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Daily Scripture

1 Peter 4:8-11

8 Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. 10 And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. 11 Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him be honor and power forever and always. Amen.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

When we teach about “spiritual gifts” at Resurrection, * one common idea we need to clear up is the perception that only a few unusually talented people have spiritual gifts. Peter’s letter (along with the apostle Paul’s writings) is clear, speaking of serving “according to the gift each person has received.” Significantly, “open your homes to each other” is one of “God’s diverse gifts” Peter explicitly listed. The ability to welcome others (like an angel of God?) is one of God’s great spiritual gifts to believers.

  • Scholar N. T. Wright captured the central message of what Peter wrote: “God’s love can transform your life and that of those around you. That, after all, is what you are here for (1 Peter 4:8–11): there is plenty to occupy any Christian in reflecting God’s love to others, in using to his glory the gifts we have been given.” ** How can focusing your time and energy on reflecting God’s love to others, using the gifts God has given to you to God’s glory, shape your life in positive ways?
  • In verse 8, Peter quoted Proverbs 10:12 to introduce his words about God’s diverse gifts. The full text in Proverbs contrasted love with hate, which “stirs up conflict.” A welcoming life is not just surface politeness—it’s an expression of God’s love. A consistently welcoming spirit (for others, God’s messengers and, ultimately, God) grows from God’s love and makes forgiveness a basic life principle. In what ways has God’s love implanted forgiveness firmly in your heart and mind?
Prayer

Jesus, too often, this world emphasizes “getting even,” or “settling the score.” You didn’t live that way, and you are the model I choose to guide and shape my life. Teach me how to live a welcoming life. Amen.

GPS Insights

Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann serves as the Care Coordination Director for the churchwide Care Central department at Church of the Resurrection.

I love to entertain! To have people over for dinner, to watch a ballgame, to work on a puzzle or play games, to do a big baking project or to just hang out. In many cases, these hang out times occur with little advance warning.

But we also love our planned and scheduled events.

One of my favorites is our annual Thanksgiving Eve soup night. We make crockpots of soup (14 this year) spread out around our kitchen, with appetizers on the island and desserts on the dining room table and desk in the living room. It is open-house style with people coming and going throughout the evening. This year we had about 70 people stop by. Before you ask, there is not even close to enough space for everyone! But it works. And I think part of the reason it works is because our family loves it so much!

One of the things that is most fascinating is how people interact. For many of them, this is a chaotic sea of strangers, yet there is never anyone standing alone or not engaged in conversation. A few years ago, my cousin and her husband, who is a judge, were at the party and I noticed him talking to one of our friends who, as it turns out, was an attorney he knew. They now look forward to seeing each other and catching up each year. This is also the place where my out-of-town brother gets together with one of his fraternity brothers for their annual visit.

Another thing that always amazes me is that no one seems to care about the house. They aren’t checking if we are done decorating for Christmas, if I missed a spot dusting, or if our house is less than company ready.  And to be honest, I don’t care much either. You see, this night is all about being with people we love. We aren’t trying to impress them; we just want to be with them.

Over the years, as our kids have grown up and moved out of state, they began inviting their friends who are now scattered across the country. The joy of seeing them together again, reminiscing about their high school and college years and celebrating their new adventures, is beyond words.

Along with our friends and family, we cherish the new people who are part of soup night each year. If our guests have friends or family in town, we are thrilled to have them join us. We have had the chance to meet so many extended family members who we otherwise might have never met.

Each year as I prepare to send the invitations, adjustments have to be made. Over the 15 plus years we have been doing this, several of our regular guests have passed and some have moved away. As I look at lists from years past, I am reminded how blessed we are to have welcomed those people into our home, to have hugged them and wished them a Happy Thanksgiving.

 On this one night, in all its chaotic glory, we have a moment to tell people, face to face, how very grateful we are that they are part of our lives. And we get to embrace new friends as they become part of our soup night crowd. In a world where loneliness is becoming an epidemic, perhaps we could all use a soup night to gather together and celebrate the people we love!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* If you want to start learning right away, check out Carol Cartmill & Yvonne Gentile, Serving from The Heart Revised Participant Workbook from Abingdon Press, available at The Well bookstore or at www.cokesbury.com. Or watch www.resurrection.church/next for classes in 2024.
** Wright, N. T., Early Christian Letters for Everyone (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 84-85). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.