Extending hospitality to strangers
One of the many blessings of life in Carson Valley is the manner in which we treat and value one another. Paul’s letter to the Romans has influenced the Christian Church to be more than simply a place to gather for worship. True worship occurs when people are valued and justice is served.
Romans 12:9-13 reads, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, preserve in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
Rejoice in hope. Wow, what wisdom for a world such as ours. When the news makers seem all to willing to fill us with fear, our Scripture invites us to be filled with hope and to rejoice in that hope. Across the years I have been privileged to be involved with many in our community that live those words in their daily lives.
Last weekend, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, many gathered in Heritage Park for the Walk in Memory and in Hope. Theirs was a quiet vigil. A time to remember loved ones lost to suicide; a time to rekindle the hope of intentional, loving intervention and the blessing of preventing future tragedies.
The Suicide Prevention Network is but one of the shining examples of contributing to the needs of the saints and extending hospitality to strangers. Others include the Family Support Council, the Partnership of Community Resources, the Carson Valley Community Food Closet, Tahoe Youth & Family Services, the Boys & Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you are unfamiliar with any of these expressions of the caring that occurs daily in our community, I encourage you to seek them out.
This service among us is truly an example of what theologians refer to as our “common life,” that distinguishing characteristic of a community filled with the spirit of God’s compassion. Such compassion transcends the negative impressions of our society so popular today. It transcends the turf so protected by politics and religion. The fact is no matter how often we are told that God is absent in American life, one simply glance at the many expressions of compassion that surround us will serve as a reminder that we can never escape the love of God in Jesus Christ.
While it is wonderful to fill our churches with praise, it is equally wonderful to recognize that our community is filled with compassion. For all who contribute to this amazing common life, thank you. Please know how very appreciated you are.
The Rev. Pete Nelson of Carson Valley United Methodist Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.