Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
1 Peter 4:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Good Stewards of God’s Grace
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), 2 so as to live for the rest of your earthly life[b] no longer by human desires but by the will of God. 3 You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme.[c] 5 But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.
7 The end of all things is near;[d] therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
“Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” Our call is to practice what Bishop Robert Schnase calls Radical Hospitality. The word radical is intentionally used to describe the kind of hospitality to which we are called as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The first definition of the word “radical” in the dictionary is “of or going to the root or origin; fundamental.”
The second definition is “thoroughgoing or extreme, esp. as regards change from accepted or traditional forms.” Both of these definitions apply to the use of the word to describe hospitality in the church. It goes to the root of who we are as people of faith and the origins of the Church.
Centuries ago, St. Benedict, retreated from Rome to a hillside cave much as Christ had retreated into the wilderness to discern God’s guidance for his life. Little did he know that he would become known years later as the “father of monasticism” and that others would follow his example. The Benedictines have a rule of hospitality that seeks to welcome every guest who comes to them as though they were Christ. Listen to these words from their rule:
All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Proper honor must be shown to all….Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all courtesy of love…All humility should be shown in addressing a guest on arrival or departure. By a bow of the head, Christ is to be adored because he is indeed welcomed in them…great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly is Christ received.
We need the reminder that hospitality is fundamental and goes to the root of who we are called to be. This applies to any church, of course, but it is also our duty as individual Christians. The kind of Hospitality to which we are called is “thoroughgoing and extreme—beyond the accepted or traditional forms.”
Years ago, Amy Oden compiled 300 pages of quotes from early church members. She summarized those quotes in this way: “The very willingness of Christians to share their meals and possessions, their homes and their worship with a stunningly wide diversity of people became one of the most convincing proofs that a kingdom of a very different kind was coming into the world.”
How can you practice hospitality in the way you relate to others?
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster