I remember being told that there are three statements everyone likes to hear.
The Jewish tradition was that when you received a person’s envoy or ambassador it was as if you were receiving the person themselves. To pay respect to the ambassador was to pay respect to the King who had sent him. Conversely, if you failed to treat the ambassador with respect and honour then you were showing great contempt and disrespect to their master.
This was particularly so for those who taught God’s truth.
Jesus’ call is for us to recognise and respect his presence in one another, to support and to encourage one another in our walk with Him and to reveal His love to those around us as we demonstrate His love in us. We’re reminded that we are ambassadors for Jesus and should behave and be seen as such. There are plenty of examples in scripture where we are reminded about the importance of sharing hospitality as a witness to the love of God in our lives, eg - James 2:15-17, Romans 12:13 – and that we may even entertain Angels by doing so – Hebrews 13:2
Our simple acts of hospitality can create a pleasant atmosphere in our homes, in our lives and very importantly, in our places of worship.
I love walking amongst the perfume counters in department stores or sampling the scents coming from the different diffusers and sprays on the various counters. Smells matter, (ask any parent of a teenager) but our actions also have the power to change the ‘aroma’ of a place or a situation for good or for bad. We may have to identify and remove something negative in our lives that’s preventing a good atmosphere from developing and taking hold. A bad attitude, a misunderstanding or a prejudice of some kind can create considerable problems in our own lives as well as the lives of those around us.
Last week I offered my wife Sarah a lift in the car (I’m all heart!) but as we got into the car we were faced with a dreadful smell. It caused immediate comment from her (blokes, you’ll know what I mean) and certainly made my nose curl. I drove with the windows open but it was still there. I emptied the contents of a can of air freshener into the cab, but it was still there. It wasn’t until I discovered the source of the problem - a plastic bag in the boot, full of rotting flowers – that I was able to begin to change the atmosphere. Once they were removed, the car could begin to offer the welcome and hospitality that I initially intended and desired it to. In a similar vein, we need to be vigilant of anything that might be tainting the aroma of Jesus in our lives and affecting the spirit of his generosity and welcome.
We sang ‘King of Kings, majesty’ by Jarrod Cooper this week. The line: ‘God of Heaven, living in me’ reminds us that our actions should be a response to his love at work in our lives. Simple acts of kindness and thoughtfulness matter and can make a great deal of difference to the lives of others. I wonder who we might be able to bless with our welcome and hospitality in the days that lie ahead?
With His blessings
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale