Radical Hospitality Incarnate
The comment was made at the More Light Presbyterians National Conference this weekend, “Some worry in my congregation that becoming a More Light church will mean we will become a gay church.” Michael Adee, executive director of More Light, responded, “You should be so lucky!” But it is unlikely, honestly, because of the hurt inflicted on GLBT people and their loved ones, which has sent so many away to find Christ elsewhere.
Much more likely is that a church will become like our hosts for the weekend, Second Presbyterian Church of Nashville which — in welcoming all the faithful, including GLBT people — shines as a beacon of radical hospitality every day with everyone.
Radical hospitality is a consistent theme in Scripture from Abraham and Sarah feeding the three strangers, to the destruction of Sodom for not receiving those same strangers with hospitality, to Jesus’ repeated use of the wedding feast as an image for the Kingdom of God.
The task of graciously receiving others, especially the stranger, is rooted in a truth about God that was the theme of the conference: “How great is the love God has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). Every child born, including those who grow up and find themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, is the stranger to be received with hospitality.
Second Presbyterian not only showed that hospitality to us, but clearly lives the Gospel message of radical hospitality every day. That they are well practiced at such radical hospitality was obvious in how effortlessly they served as our host, with questions quickly answered, spaces for good conversation and for quiet prayer, and volunteers always at hand to help us get what we needed. The building, too, reflected the spirit of the people, as it should in the Church; it was user-friendly, handicapped-accessible, bright and open.
Most of all, the Sunday worship service at Second was truly inspiring in its combination of stateliness and warmth. The congregation and the participants in the conference passed the peace with palpable joy to one another. By opening its doors to the GLBT faithful as a More Light church, Second Presbyterian has clearly learned to embody the welcoming spirit of the Gospel, serving as an example to us all of how to be the Church, the people of God in Christ.
May we all follow the example of Second Pres in meeting the stirring challenge to incarnate the Gospel message whenever we greet another, wherever – and whomever – that may be.