“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” -Matthew 10:40 (NIV)
A dinner with some new friends yesterday – the wife is one of my spouse’s newly-hired fellow managers at her work – was an invitation that I initially was enthused in order to support my wife. Saturdays are one of those days that I jealously want to spend just with her. However, I came away from the dinner invitation with pleasure at making the acquaintance of a wonderful family. Husband, wife, three grown daughters and us shared homemade tacos, dog-, family- and of course nursing experiences, laughter, and an obvious immediate friendship.
Looking at their new home, with its spacious rooms, dozens of pictures yet to be mounted, and yet a lot of touches of home – what the husband laughingly called foo-foo ( many of these articles were some of the same things that Sheri has decorating our home) already placed, were very welcoming. Their little rotund Sheltie kept going back and forth outside – concerned with the neighboring children playing in a pool – elicited a story of how the family in their former home had to gather on the side of the pool to mollify this dog’s herding them to perceived “safety” of the shallows; one of the girls shared their picture of the “unhappy” family. Home is what a family makes of any house. Our shared love for dogs are part of that feeling of home. When a home welcomes you inside and people break bread together, according to my faith, the Spirit of Jesus has also been welcomed in.
Today, Sunday, like every day of worship, we spend the morning with our extended family. But the message for today is the same message that we lived yesterday and encourages us to live out tomorrow: sense of family, peace, and encouraging one another. In a world so given to tumult, it is a sense of spiritual family that binds different people together. I recognize it in the decade or two of community that my neighbors and I share, whether it is the tools that we lend – or give – to one another, the vegetables and fruit from one another’s garden, conversation over a couple beers, invitation to dinner, or a hike with friends.
While I sat tonight on my patio watching a couple hummingbirds flit about in the yellowbell and the salvia bushes, I thought about how God is all around us. He cares that we relate to one another and with Him. Watching how my garden grows, whether it is the grape vine that is prospering from the patio umbrella that protects it from the worst of the August sun, or the Yellowbell bush that is now blooming from new growth – recovering from a near-death experience this past Spring teaches me that everything can benefit from a little loving care. God cares and watches over His creation. But His leaving free will for mankind, means that we are responsible to love and to build relationships with one another. It is something spiritually purposeful that encourages us as much or more than those we encourage.
So just as I am encouraged by the garden visit by hummingbirds, I am grateful to have the opportunity to encourage others. When others have a deep sense of family already, we can yet share an eternal Hope and greater love for family as an outcome of a life in Jesus.