By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
This Sunday, July 8, 2018, we continue our Via Positiva theme of Yes! In Deed! exploring the various ways that we can embody our “Yes!” our “Oh, Yeah” in the world.
This Sunday we used music from Paul McCartney and Wings to learn how to truly embody hospitality for every person and creature on this earth.
From the Jesus Story: Luke 10:1-10: I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.
From the Apostle Paul: Galatians 6:1-10: let us not grow weary in doing what is right
From A Course in Miracles, Chapter 19: The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers
Song used in the sermon: Let ’em In – Paul McCartney & Wings
Jesus knows that what he’s asking his disciples to do is not easy and he doesn’t sugarcoat it for any of them. “I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves,” he tells them. On top of that, he tells them to go, not just unarmed into that land of wolves, but without a bag, a purse or even sandals! That just seems like a prescription for being eaten!
And that’s the point – the ego protests all of that. The world is full of wolves, the ego tells us, and the best way to defend against wolves is to arm yourself. Only a stupid person goes out amongst wolves with nothing to protect themselves, says the ego. Jesus is not asking us to be stupid – he’s asking us to be who we truly are – divine, loving, innocent, smart people who know that if we arm ourselves with our ego, that loves to divide, attack, compete and judge, we’ll never encounter true unconditional hospitality in this world, and more importantly, we’ll never understand how to give that to others.
The Apostle Paul picks up on this message in his letter to the early Christian community in Galatia. They’re having a bit of a challenge in showing hospitality not so much to strangers but each other, accusing one another of transgressions and just not doing this whole spiritual thing right.
Paul tells them, “Look, this living into your Christ consciousness isn’t an easy thing, especially if you’re going to insist on letting your ego be your guide.” Instead, he tells them, before you can properly extend hospitality to those around you, you really have to learn how to give it to yourself.
“All must test their own work,” Paul tells them, “then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.”
When someone comes into our midst, we cannot offer them hospitality based on their work, or the load they carry. We must offer it based upon our own work, and the load we carry. Unless we have done our own inner work of compassionately welcoming every part of ourselves – including the glutton, the liar, the greedy, the tyrant and the deceiver within our own hearts and minds – we’ll never be able to receive anyone else on their own terms.
Jesus and Paul are telling their followers exactly what A Course in Miracles tells us millions of years later: “In my defenselessness my safety lies.” If we embody unconditional hospitality it doesn’t matter what the other person does when they enter into our space – whether they laugh with us or kill us.
This bodily world is not where we should – or are even able – to truly meet anyone. Instead, unconditional hospitality greets everyone on that spiritual, higher consciousness level beyond this illusion. That field out beyond all ideas of right doing and wrong doing – as the Muslim poet Rumi put it centuries ago.
I know, y’all think I just went crazy in this moment. “You expect us to open the door and let in people who could physically kill us?” Jesus would. He allowed Judas into his world, and it was his betrayal that set off a chain of events that led to Jesus’ bodily death. Jesus knew one of his followers would betray him, but he let them all in anyway – even knowing it would one day cost him his life.
For Jesus, hospitality is all or nothing. He ate with the outcast as well as the Pharisees and invited a betrayer into his inner circle. This level of commitment to hospitality is why Jesus said, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” Who wants to go to work harvesting that field if what you reap may kill you?
Y’know what? We’re all going to die anyway, so the question is, do you want to die knowing you extended love whenever and wherever the opportunity presented itself? Or, do you want to die knowing you could have sown more love in the world and reaped more love in return if you had just been willing to open the door, and let ’em in – no questions asked, no matter who they are?
Here’s your assignment this week: I invite you, Jubilants, even though the world may seem overwhelming and frustrating at times to take the Apostle Paul’s words with you in your heart: “Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all …” Sow peace, sow justice, sow love and compassion in this world this week and by the week’s end, I guarantee that the harvest of love that you reap will make you say: “Oh, Yeah!”