Ephesians 2: 11-22
‘You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are members of God’s household.’ This is the Good News that Paul is proclaiming in his letter to the Ephesians: it’s the good news of the Gospel: that we who were once strangers have now come to live in God’s home. And this has all happened through the gift of Christ’s dying for us on the Cross. The Cross, for Paul, is the most wonderful expression of God’s generous love for us, and the most radical expression of God’s extraordinary hospitality.
A few months ago, I was living in Colombia. And whoever it was I stayed with showed me extraordinary hospitality. The first thing they invariably said to me by way of welcome was that wonderful Spanish phrase, ‘Mi casa es su casa’: ‘my home is your home’. And Paul is telling us in this letter that God’s generosity is so overflowing, that he longs for each one of us, whoever we are, whether we feel like a stranger, or unworthy, God longs for us to ‘come home’, to come and live with God forever. You could say that the whole Gospel is about God inviting and welcoming each one of us with these gracious words, ‘Mi casa es su casa’: ‘my home is your home.’ Jesus came to offer us that very invitation. In John’s Gospel chapter 14, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘In my father’s house there are many rooms. I am going to prepare a place for you, and then I will come and take you there, so that where I am you may be also.’ ‘Mi casa es su casa!’ God’s extraordinary hospitality. And look who he invites! All sorts; tax collectors, outcasts, sinners, like you and me. ‘Let them all come in. There’s room for everyone in my house’.
We brothers are living these weeks at Emery House. And this place has a beautiful history of extraordinary hospitality. In the eighteenth century, John Emery, the first of the Emeries, once offered bed and board to a Quaker who was in need. He also took the risk of offering him the right hand of fellowship, which it was forbidden to do with a Quaker in puritan Massachusetts. Despite receiving a fine, John Emery was simply responding to a man in need of hospitality.
Then, in the nineteenth century, it is widely believed that Emery House was a station on the Underground Railway. Runaway slaves were likely offered hospitality here as they made the perilous journey to freedom in Canada. ‘Mi casa es su casa’.
In these difficult times, when we are experiencing isolation, one of the things that many of us miss is being able to invite others to our homes to share a meal. When we offer hospitality, we share in and reflect the very nature of God, and we receive such blessings in return. We may not be able to do that now, but this may be a good time to think back over our lives, and remember all those who have shown us hospitality: those who have invited us into their lives and homes, those who have been there for us, when we felt alone or in trouble. Give thanks to God for them.
Then secondly, ask how you might show hospitality today. You might not be able to invite others into your home right now, but why not call them, or write to them, send a card to cheer them, or talk to them on line. Who do you know who might be alone or anxious at his time? Show them that you care, and are thinking of them. Take them into your heart and your prayers. That is hospitality too.
Finally, spend this time remembering how God called you home. When did you first hear God’s invitation? What has the journey been like? How are you now experiencing God’s generous love, God’s extraordinary hospitality? Give thanks, give thanks for those special moments in your journey of faith when you heard God speak, loud and clear, those gracious words to you: ‘Mi casa es su casa’.
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