January 2, 2021

He Welcomed All

The gospel is preached in the actions of the faithful, not just from behind the pulpit. And, just as importantly, the kindom of God is made k
So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 
Nehemiah 8:8
The saying, "Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary," is usually attributed to Francis of Assisi. Of course, he said no such thing—though perhaps he would have agreed with the sentiment.

And the sentiment is a good one, indeed. I also find meaning in this saying: "You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read." I don't know who first said that, either. But both it and the pseudo-Francis quote remind me that simply reading (or quoting) from a book—even if that book is the Bible—has little to no impact if words aren't reflected in deeds. In Nehemiah, we read that the meaning of the law had to be imparted over and above the reading. And in Acts, we know that Paul didn't just preach boldly while he lived in Rome, he also welcomed profoundly. 

The United Church of Christ is often criticized for practicing what we call extravagant welcome—an expression that reflects our foundational belief that all God's children are invited to full participation in the body of Christ. This belief is shared by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which states that we welcome all to the Lord's table as God has welcomed us. In both churches, the word of God is not just bound between the covers of a book, but is expressed in deed and attitude. The gospel is preached in the actions of the faithful, not just from behind the pulpit. And, just as importantly, the kindom of God is made known in God's welcome which is "for all—not just for some."

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. 
 Acts 28:30-31 
After thinking about today's devotion, pray these hymn lyrics:
Teach us, O Lord, your lessons,
as in our daily life
we struggle to be human
and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people,
for all—not just for some,
to love them as we find them
or as they may become.
 Fred Kaan ©1975 Hope Publishing
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
Complete Lyrics:
Help us accept each other
as Christ accepted us;
teach us as sister, brother,
each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us
and bring us to believe:
we are ourselves accepted
and meant to love and live.
Teach us, O Lord, your lessons,
as in our daily life
we struggle to be human
and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people,
for all—not just for some,
to love them as we find them
or as they may become.
Let your acceptance change us
so that we may be moved
in living situations
to do the truth in love;
to practice your acceptance
until we know by heart
the table of forgiveness
and laughter's healing art.
Lord, for today's encounters
with all who are in need,
who hunger for acceptance,
for justice and for bread,
we need new eyes for seeing,
new hands for holding on:
renew us with your Spirit;
Lord, free us, make us one!
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