This past Sunday was Pentecost. If you’re not familiar with the holiday, it’s a celebration of the Holy Spirit that gave the Disciples the gift of tongues so that they could share the news of Jesus’s resurrection with the people of Jerusalem. That miracle — when a mighty wind blew, and tongues of fire descended on the Disciples — is typically regarded as the founding of the Christian Church. Peter used the gift of tongues to preach to the crowd that gathered, and about 3,000 people are said to have been baptized that day.
I’ve never really liked the story of Pentecost that much — the “tongues of fire” were always a little much for me — but I was looking for inspiration for a worship service that I’d scheduled for that day, and I finally, for whatever reason, read just a little bit beyond the standard Pentecost reading.
Acts 2:44-47 describes “Life among the Lord’s Followers,” the early days of the church:
All the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. Day after day, they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.
This passage nagged at me for weeks until I considered it in conjunction with Shane Claiborne’s essay on Hospitality in Common Prayer. Shane writes:
Hospitality is one of the marks of the early church. Jesus was always going to people’s homes, and his healings and teaching often happened around a dinner table or in a living room. The early church ate and met in each other’s homes. It has been noted that when the disciples were sent out with nothing at all (no money, no clothes, no provisions), it was not because Jesus wanted them to suffer in poverty or to be left alone in the street; it was because they were to rely on the hospitality of others. Not only were the early Christians to practice hospitality; they were to depend on it. […]
Our Savior came into the world dependent on hospitality, from the moment he was born in a borrowed manger until he was buried in a donated tomb. What is more, Jesus longs to meet us face to face in the disguise of the stranger, the guest at our door.
Here’s where I’m struck once again by God’s timing. At Dinner Church this past weekend, we talked about these passages. We talked about hospitality and how we’ve experienced it, how we sometimes struggle to accept it, how we as The Church are called to extend it to all of God’s children, as in our neighbors.
And Rev. Jay Deskins is going to talk to us this October about our neighbors, those children we’re supposed to be hospitable to: the ones we know and love, the ones we know and don’t like one bit, the ones we haven’t met yet. Jesus commanded us to love the Lord our God, to love ourselves, and to love our neighbors. This commandment was so important to Jesus that He then added: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Clearly, neighbors are kind of an important thing.
I’m excited to hear what Jay has to say this fall, and I can’t wait to spend another beautiful weekend at Christmount. See you there.