Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome and Refusal

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’* But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus* said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ Luke 9:51-62

A wealthy woman appeared on my mother's doorstep last night with her wet laundry. She is a neighbor and she asked if my Mom had laundy in the dryer. My mother said yes but that it was dry. The neighbor then took the dry clothes out of her dryer and proceeded to put hers in. She stayed and talked but made no motion to help her fold the removed clothes. My mother was kind and shocked and came to tell us later. My mother is the epitome of welcome, often letting people take avantage of her kindness. And yet, I am grateful for her kindness and her welcome. She taught me well how to be a friend, a neighbor and aservant of God. I didn't ever learn from her how to take advantage of others.

Jesus encounters folks who refuse to welcome him. The disciples want to curse the village and bring destruction down upon them. Jesus refused to be unkind and went on to another place. Our human nature is such that we want to return cruelty for cruelty, refusal for refusal. But love demands more from us. A kindness despite others selfishness, a welcome despite their behavior.

Today I ask God for the strength to welcome the crabby, demanding and the selfish as well as friends and neighbors. I ask God to help me be patient with others' humnaityi and selfishness. For love demands that we have larger hearts than the petty world we live in, so that God's glimmer of hope might shine through our courtesy and kindness.

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