When I walk our dogs along the road we live on we often walk by a house that, as the phrase goes ‘has seen better days.’ Weeds wrap themselves around its siding, its doors and poke out the broken windows. Pieces of screen wave in the wind; the roof is raising moss. Grass grows tall where a driveway should be and a gutter has all but disappeared. Neglect and disarray are kinder words I think, while eyesore and hauntedness creep into my mind. How could a beautiful old home be left so alone now a haven for birds, bats and other creatures?
Then, I wonder how many feel like this old house? People who walk around us but inside they hurt, they are broken and in need of some care. It’s easy to see what needs fixing in this old house but not so easy to see in people. We are much better at making ourselves seem fine and all the while wishing someone would notice yet somewhat afraid when they do.
As we wrestle with the meaning of hospitality in our sermon series this month, I’m struck by how Jesus clearly saw past the smiles or the cries to what was needed in each person he met – especially those who found a way to linger with him. He noticed those yearning to be free of sickness or disability, those who had been left too long on the edges of society. He noticed the young with hopeful hearts. He noticed the older who had been pushed aside. He noticed the loud and out of control, never turning away but turning towards them with calm and healing words. Jesus noticed and did more than just look and walk away. Jesus reached out with words and hands in the Kingdom life he lived.
How can we, who claim Jesus as our savior and healer, find a way to respond to the neglected in the places we live and work? How can we make a space in our schedules to take time to notice the needs and in living out our faith share the hospitality Jesus gives us? There are no quick fixes or easy answers here. It means a thorough change of our thinking, our planning, our living.
As I walk by the old house I sometimes get discouraged but then I remember who my Lord Jesus is. He holds all power in heaven and on earth and calls me to live humbly in his Kingdom today. He calls me to have hope and faith in Him, most of all. To proclaim once again that the Kingdom of God is at hand, is available, is living and to claim the old house for His Kingdom as I go.
He calls us all the more- to see the Kingdom possibilities in everyone, to notice and to stop and to offer as much as we can today – a smile, a kind word, a welcome, a prayer of healing or hope. Those don’t seem like much but by Kingdom standards – they are huge! Jesus can take even our tiny tidbits of faith and transform the world.