My warm wishes to all of you. I know some of you are just coping with your lives; others feel they are hanging on; and some are riding a wave of good will and achievement.
It is wise to understand that your present situation isn’t permanent. Today provides us with the inner resources for what is ahead of us–the difficult and the mundane. What is common in every day however is that people need love, courage, faith, encouragement as well as the help of experts for their medical conditions.
Supernova Show - only a few days to go.
The weekend of July 5th and 6th will have three performances – Saturday night, Sunday afternoon matinee and Sunday night. I have heard that the Supernova Band will bring some music for Yvonne’s fund raising night – thank you very much. We all know how much Yvonne would have been doing to assist Amy and the young people with all technical aspects of the Supernova show. Please book your tickets for this and remember it is not just children’s entertainment. It is much more.
The 35 young people involved in this project have worked so very hard for you
A Story of Hospitality (extract from a sermon 29th June, 2014)
“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me.”
In 1985, Stan and I led a group from the Uniting Church Parish of South Perth on a friendship mission to Jawa, Indonesia. We spent a week in the village of Purbalingga, in the highlands north of Djakarta. A member of our church was Indonesian and owned a peppermint factory there.
It was not since the end of World War Two that the people of Purbalingga had seen a large group of white Europeans. There was great excitement and interest in our being there.
We were staying in a very modest guest house – the only one in the village. Mrs Sima Bribhadhi our church member, had prepared a long time for our coming. The evening meals were to be a highlight and prepared and hosted by the village. A building adjacent to the guest house had been allocated especially for us to eat our evening meal.
There was singing and speeches each night from different members and we took our turn. Always there was good-natured translation. After a blessing the meal would begin. Our hosts had such expectant faces watching us prepare to eat. None of them would eat until we had had our fill and retired to our rooms. The food was beautifully displayed. My memory is of vividly coloured rice cakes that I had never seen before. Eager faces watched each movement as we took different foods and placed them carefully on our plates.
We all struggled with some of the tastes - and we all struggled to appear as though we were enjoying that which we were not enjoying at all.
I worked out a way to slip the food into the large pocket in my dress. I had chosen it specifically. At the time I was pregnant and didn’t feel so robust about some foods and smells, so I had come to the meal prepared. None of our hosts showed any sign that we might not like their food. They were giving us their best food; served only for the very special holy occasions.
Some of us worked out ways to wrap the food in a tissue, to look for a place later on to dispose of the food, so that we didn’t offend these people who had prepared for a long time to provide the best feast.
But there were no rubbish bins – we walked the village looking but there were none!! The only means of disposal were the small wicker baskets in our guest rooms so in them we placed our food hidden in the tissue wrapping.
The next morning, not long after breakfast and when the group had gone for a walk in the nearby market, I came back to get my camera. I passed the room adjacent to the guest house entry lobby and saw ‘our shame’.
There, on a long wooden table were all the wicker baskets from our rooms and beside them all the contents had been emptied - not for prying or dishonest purposes but for careful sorting so that nothing could be wasted. Each of the brightly coloured rice cakes had been reclaimed and re wrapped in banana leaves for the children to take to school or to keep for the next family meal. The pull rings from our drink cans were in a pile, and the plastic bags we had discarded were being washed.
We pretended we had not noticed but that night the discussions among ourselves were about overcoming some of our personal tastes to receive their hospitality more graciously and generously. I remember the taste not being nearly so hard as the knowledge that they had given us the food they could not afford for themselves.
They were very poor in our terms but their welcome was sumptuous; only their best food was to be offered. Their culture meant that the visitors from out of town, not of their culture, should have the best.
By the end of the week, we were more honourable guests. We became more generous in giving away our things- we grew to love these fine people.
We rarely entertain the thought of giving away our very best things or radically welcoming in the stranger. We have so much, that by giving away our left overs or spare change or putting on a gracious dinner for a few friends, we can convince ourselves we have given a lot and more than that we are being disciples of Christ. It actually does seem a lot but when it is just our left overs, it isn’t. This is not the spirit of what Jesus spoke about. This practice, which is so much a part of the wealthy world is too easy and too half-hearted.
The integrity of our serving Christ and being effective as churches suffers greatly from this.
Can we truly embrace the understanding that Jesus is present every day in the hospitality that we offer others and that others offer us?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it very well in his book, The Cost of Discipleship:
"The bearers of Jesus' word …..are to meet those to whom they are sent as if they were Christ himself.
When they are welcomed into a house, Christ enters with them. They are bearers of his presence. They bring with them the most precious gift in the world, the gift of Jesus Christ."
"And with them they bring God the Father, and that means indeed forgiveness and salvation, life and blessing. That is the reward of their toil and suffering. Every service people give them is service provided to Christ himself."
I too find this very difficult but I would rather be reminded that I am left wanting, and to know that I can be more than I am - than to shut myself away in my culture of too many things and too much comfort . To serve Jesus and to welcome him is to know the joy and freedom of living with less and giving of ourselves more.