Connections 07.03.2022: Who Do We Welcome?

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Author and creative coach Jennifer Louden talks about “signature themes,” that is, images and ideas that seem to come up again and again in our lives. One of my “signature themes” is moving. I grew up relocating every two or three years because of my dad’s job. A few years after I got married, my husband joined the Navy, and we’ve spent 22 years relocating every two or three years with our own family. I see “moving” and “going” in everything. It’s no wonder, perhaps, that my favorite verse was the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20, which starts, “Go ye therefore…” I know what it feels like to “go.” My formative church life echoed this theme; in our churches, missionaries were our Great Commission models: going for the purpose of teaching and baptizing and making disciples.

Thanks to my own “signature theme” and to the church tradition that raised me, I relate to the disciples in Luke 10. Jesus sends them out to all the towns where Jesus himself planned to go. He gives them instructions about what to take (not much), what to say when they get there (“Peace!”), how to behave (help, heal), and what to do if they are not welcomed (shake off the dust). All of us modern-day disciples can take notes: if we are called to “Go ye therefore,” Luke 10 is our to-do list for the journey.

I wonder, though, if there are times when we need to explore the flip sides of our signature themes, and maybe even the flip sides of our faith callings and the Bible stories. If Jesus’ teaching in Luke 10 is instructions for his followers, perhaps it is also a warning for those who receive the disciples. We may read this story assuming we are in the role of the disciples, those commissioned to go out as missionaries, proclaimers, disciple-makers. But perhaps there are times when we are the townspeople receiving unexpected, even uninvited, guests. There are times when we are called not to preach and teach but to listen and learn. When we choose whether we will take a share in peace. When we are commissioned to practice humility and hospitality to those God sends. And if we won’t, perhaps there are times when God’s messengers will leave us in the dust.

Discussion

  • Are you more comfortable with the idea of “going” as a missionary, or receiving unexpected, uninvited guests who may be bringing a word from the Lord?
  • Has your church tradition focused more on responding to Jesus’ call to “go,” or on the practice of humility in receiving those who are sent to us? How do we find balance between these two “flip sides”?
  • How do you practice sharing peace? How do you practice hospitality? How does your church community actively practice welcoming newcomers and travelers?
  • In recent years, human migration and refugees fleeing crises have become a growing concern. How do you think these “current events” relate to our willingness to welcome guests? Do you consider migrants, refugees, and other travelers to be people who might teach us God’s ways?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for d365.org and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at amovingyarn.com.

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