Hospitality. The act of serving one another and meeting the needs of others is quickly becoming a lost art. Have you ever been to a get together or party where the host thought of everything and went out of their way to make you feel welcome, a part, loved, cared for, blessed? If it is anything like some of the experiences I have had it was awesome. Now, have you ever been to a get together or party where the opposite was true? Not as much fun was it. You felt that you were maybe intruding, in the way, not sure what to do or where to go or sit, etc.. Today we see the arrival of Elisha, the prophet in training with Elijah. Elijah has been taken up to heaven in what most certainly was a spectacular scene and Elisha has now been promoted. There were so many things that I could have picked to focus on today from the miracles with the widow and her sons to the Elisha's calling down a curse on the youth that were insulting and disrespecting the man of God, but something stood out to me in today's reading that I am not sure I have noticed before. It is something that I believe should be at the heart of our lives as Christians.
The Heart Of A Servant
Above when I talked about hospitality, I referenced it in the context of a party or get together, but hospitality goes so far beyond that. We see the essence of hospitality lived out in hotels, restaurants, car repair shops, the mall, or any other business in the service industry. (at least, if they are good at what they do, we see it) We see hospitality shown to us when the person in front of us at the super market who has a full cart and sees us with three items chooses to let us go in front of them to save us some time. We see it when our spouse takes care of something for us that they know we don't enjoy doing so that we can have a break from it. There are lots of ways that we see serving one another and hospitality lived out in our lives on a daily basis and could have a list a mile long, but that is not the purpose of this blog today.
For Elisha, a women went out of her way to show hospitality toward him. The Shunammite Women, a women with no name, who had the means to serve others, found an opportunity and seized it. She saw that Elisha was someone who came through town on a semi regular basis and offered to feed him dinner anytime he came to town. After coming through town a couple of times she went to her husband and suggested building Elisha a permanent place to stay when he came to town. So they added onto the house and built him a room up on the roof that was all his. She had the means and finances to make this kind of investment, she had the heart and willingness to serve someone else with those means and she saw the opportunity to act and took it.
That is hospitality. Seeing the needs of others and looking for ways to effectively serve and minister to them through the means that you have been given by God. There are so many parallells that we could look at in scripture to illustrate this. But the one that would be at the top of the list is Christ himself. Read through Philippians 2:5-11 carefully and thoughtfully, taking not of the very first line. We are to have the mindset of Christ in our relationships with one another.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Christ came to serve. He came to seek and save the lost and he humbled himself to make every effort to make sure we could have the opportunity to have restored relationship with God. But Christ did not just come to serve here on earth. Just like the Shunammite women he knew that we would be coming to him and so he began to prepare a place for us when we arrived. In John 14:1-4 he told his disciples that he was continuing in his service and hospitality by going to prepare a place for them.
1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
This summer you are going to be hearing about "The Summer of Service" here at Central Assembly. We want to now more than ever be a church that looks at the world through the lenses of service and hospitality. We want to be a people who sees opportunities to bless and minister to people in great and small ways alike and then seize those moments by acting in accordance with the means we have been given to do so. God has given each of us different gifts, abilities, resources and influences. He is asking us, just as he gave us the example, to step out and use those means to impact those around us.
So I invite you to make this summer one of the most blessed summers you will ever have and begin to look for ways that you can either on your own, as a family, or with the church engage with our community and the world in such a way that we connect with them in real, unforced and meaningful ways as we serve each other, our community and our world this summer.
There are so many people in our community and world who are crying S.O.S. in life. Maybe this summer God will use you to help them during a Summer Of Service.