Sunday, October 9, 2011

extravagant welcome

At a picnic today, I listened to a man share how he and his wife had found their church.  After years at one church, they were looking for something fresh and different.  When a friend kept gushing about her church, they decided to check it out, even though it was an hour and a half from their home.  

Sitting in the new church the next weekend, this man listened to the pastor give a welcome.   "This is a church of extravagant welcome.  Whether you are old or young, conservative or liberal, gay or straight, happy or sad, every single person is welcome here."  The man turned to his wife.  "no way they are TOTALLY welcoming.  Bet you they will be preaching against someone in the next few weeks."  "I will take that bet" said his wife.  So they came back the next week.  And the next.  They have been going for seven months and have yet to find a contradiction in the weekly offer of extravagant welcome.

"It just opened my heart." The man said.  "The music is good, the preaching is interesting, solid and biblical, the people are warm...but it is the idea of extravagant welcome that was irresistible to me."

I totally got what he was saying.  Extravagant Welcome.  It fills me with the wonder of how God can be like that.  It also makes me want to kick open my doors a bit wider.  It reminds me of story after Bible story of Jesus.  It makes me feel loved and wanted and generous. 

In Karen Mains' book Open Heart, Open Home, she writes about the practices of being extravagantly welcoming in your home.  "In the dictionary the definition for hospitable is wedged between the word hospice, which is a shelter, and hospital, which is a place of healing.  Ultimately, this is what we offer when we open our home in the true spirit of hospitality.  We offer shelter; we offer healing."  

And Paul talks about how extravagant welcome happens in a spiritual sense.   
Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody..... You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  Ephesians 2

It sounds like an adventure.  Who knows what interesting people and paths that might lead too.  I'm in!


  1. So very winsome, makes you feel extravagant just knowing it. What an awesome God! M6

  2. Love your picture! M6