Whoever Welcomes Us

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:40

    Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

He is telling us that when you are welcomed by someone else, they are also welcoming Christ.

You see, I believe, and Jesus tells us frequently that each and every one of us is a presence of God and Christ.

Sometimes you will hear someone say, in greeting another:

    “The Christ in me sees the Christ in you.”

Deep within each of us, sometimes hidden very deeply, is the presence of Christ. And with that presence of Christ is the presence of God. We may just have to dig deep enough to find it.

I want you to do something. Turn to the person on your left and say:

    “The Christ in me sees the Christ in you”

You might even try it with a smile on your face, as if you meant it.

Now, turn to your right and say:

    “The Christ in me sees the Christ in you”

Doesn’t that make you feel better; doesn’t that lift your spirits? Aren’t you warmed by the response from the person you just greeted?

We are representing Christ to the world.

In Matthew 25 we often concentrate on when Jesus is hungry, and thirsty, and naked – and we feed, offer drink, and clothe him. But, there is also this line:

    When I was a stranger you welcomed me. (Matthew 25:35)

Hospitality is a basic Christian principle. We welcome others into our homes, around our tables, at In The Garden, and into our lives. We are following Jesus’ commandment to

    love your neighbor. (Matthew 22:39)

And, by welcoming them we are also welcoming God in Christ, loving God with our hearts, souls, and lives.

This is one things that we ought to go out of our way to do.

And not just with the strangers who show up on our door. It’s easy to extend hospitality to someone we’ve never met before, or someone we just barely know, or someone we think we will never see again… but at the same time forget those who are always around us.

We must welcome and honor Christ in everyone:

    Christ in the stranger;
    Christ in our enemy;
    Christ in the friend;
    Christ in the partner;
    Christ in our siblings;
    Christ in our family, no matter how fragmented;
    Christ in the politician who makes our blood boil;
    Christ in the one who believes differently or look different.

Christ in everyone.

For when we welcome everyone as Christ. . .

    then, just maybe. . .
    they will see the Christ in us.

And where Christ is welcome all things are possible.

Delivered at In The Garden Community Ministry, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH, 29 June 2014

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