Whoever welcomes you welcomes me

I heard a story recently about a young boy who was terrified to go to bed at nights. He, being the youngest was always first to bed, and in those days before electricity, he just never settled when the gaslight had to go off. There were unexplained noises, and dark shadows in the room.

One night the boy’s father said to him,

‘Would you rather I leave the light on and go downstairs OR turn the light out and stay with you for a while?’

I wonder what you would have chosen as a child?

The boy chose his father’s presence in the darkness.

Strangely enough the very next day, my attention was drawn to a book CALLED Would You Rather? Here was this sentence again.

It’s a book all about choices, and it seeks to promote discussions with young people. e.g.

I could have added to this book a question of my own this week, for I completed a long overdue exercise on time management and thinking about the future

It was this:-

Would I rather continue in ministry as I am doing at present rate and face an early grave,

OR get my act together and see what exactly God is directing me to do.

A reshuffle in our existing team leadership has helped me face up to such questions.

When you begin to look at strengths and weaknesses, things that excite you and things you ought to let go of, the exercise begins to be excruciating:-

  • you find you won’t be able to please everyone

  • there are things you so much want to hold on to

  • God seems strangely

  • You discover so many outside factors run your life, and eat up time.

  • You discover you are wearing a yoke of your own making, because you can’t say ‘No’.

I had always wanted to be God’s messenger of good news to others, now I wonder whether the news had been held up in the sorting office!

Bearing in mind the fact that one’s whole life should be a testimony to God’s love, let us all consider the time we allot to actually serving God practically through the week:- and ask

Now it may be that we are perfectly balanced in what we do, and are doing exactly what God has allotted to us; and our message is succeeding

how blessed we are IF we know this,

but it’s worth testing each of our vocations especially now, in this day and age when the Church attendance seems to be dropping to an all time low?

Have we got it right as a church? Are we truly functioning as ONE BODY? As a church are we doing what God requires of us?

Are our gifts blending , mixing , matching joining in strength and force to win others?

Are our numbers growing?

We need to be asking such questions, and we may find it an excruciating task to fulfil.

But let us bear in mind what we learn from our gospel reading today ‘WHOEVER WELCOMES YOU WELCOMES ME, AND WHOEVER WELCOMES ME WELCOMES THE ONE WHO SENT ME.’

Jews in the time of Jesus believed that to receive a person’s envoy was the same as to receive the person himself; and to welcome with love a messenger of a friend was the same as to welcome the friend himself.

I thought when I read this of Vjollca, Fatos and their family, alone in that detention centre entering the visitors’ room to meet with Margery and Mary whom they did not even recognise. On discovering they represented us and were AMBASSADORS from our Church of the Good Shepherd, the family welcomed them with tears in their eyes

Margery and Mary told them who they were, and who had sent them, they gave generously to them, they prayed for them, they embraced them, they passed on their messages of love and concern, they saved them in their situation and gave them hope. . It was as though they knew that these were our cuddles, our prayers, our support for them. They recognized us in them!

Is this not we are all called to do?

We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, who in turn was God’s most high ambassador.

If we more truly reflect Jesus, and move at his direction, and try to discern God’s will, surely it follows that people will begin to realise who it is they are really greeting when they meet with us! They will begin to see the real Jesus through us, and through him they will discover a great God through him!

To reach one friend or twenty strangers doesn’t matter; what matters is they see and recognise in us the One who originally gave us the message to tell.

As individuals we can begin this process right now, of eliminating excess baggage, of deleting the unproductive messages we give, of trying to focus what our message is, and how we’re going to get it to where it should be, and make sure it is delivered.

Then like the young boy in the bedroom, we will never have to wonder where God is, or worry that He will abandon us when the going gets tough or we get lost.

God is with us! Even though the darkness of confusion is all around, and the creaking noises and eerie shadows are there to frighten us. He is near!

Can we feel him breathing upon us?