S (Scripture): Romans 15:7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.
O (Observation): Paul is starting to close his letter to his people in Rome. He continues to emphasize the mutual acceptance of one another into the Church. Jews and Gentiles who have come to believe in Jesus as the Christ are having a hard time dealing with one another and the baggage that each brings to the Church.
Paul seeks all in the Church to welcome one another, just at Christ welcomes each one of us to faith. And this is done by Jesus not for his own sake, but for God’s glory. I think that note should not be lost on us. We accept one another into the fold, not to be Jesus worshippers, but to worship God. Jesus is the connecting point of God on earth. In Jesus, we have the model, the archetype for humanity. Jesus, then, shows us the way, and brings us to a place where we can welcome all into the faith.
A (Application): I attended the 5th Love Your Neighbor picnic at Barfield Park in Murfreesboro, TN, yesterday. At this point, I can’t imagine this NOT being a part of my life. At this event, co-sponsored by the Murfeesboro Muslim Youth and the Murfreesboro Cold Patrol (a homeless ministry), we see people from all walks of life gathered together for mutual support, breaking bread with one another, with no spiritual or political agenda.
We simply gather, welcoming one another with no questions asked. For me, this is my way of being a welcoming presence to my neighbor. I do this work in the name of Jesus, since I know that Jesus has welcomed me. I don’t go around at this picnic convincing Muslims or Jews to become Christians. Rather, I simply meet people where they are.
I have had many relationships started and further developed at these picnics. My family and I are being exposed to folks and foods from other cultures and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Conversations are fun and sometimes challenging when accents or language barriers exist…but there is love there. You can sense it. You can almost feel it in the air. This is hard to describe…. But it is so good!
An exciting development is that Murfreesboro has become a site for refugee resettlement. We have roughly 30 refugees settled into apartments in Murfreesboro, and many in our community have come together to support these refugees. And many of these new community members came to the picnic! I met two families from Somalia, and they came dressed in some of their native garb. They are beautiful people who are so grateful for all our community is doing to support them and help them to become productive members of our society.
33 folks affiliated with our congregation attended some or all of this picnic, yesterday. We met lots of new folks and experienced grace in our neighbors.
May we all experience this type of growth in love and mercy. May we all know this grace poured out in mutual love for one another.
P (Prayer): Lord, meet us where we meet our neighbors. Amen.