“Love one another as I have loved you and you shall be blessed. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live in my love. Love one another as I have loved you and you shall be blessed – and you shall be blessed.” This is from a beautiful choir anthem based on Jesus’ teaching found in the Gospel of John.
So what does Jesus mean when he says “Love one another as I have loved you?” An interesting question and one which the Deacons considered during their annual overnight retreat in February.
Discussion centered on the concept of hospitality. What does hospitality mean in the context of our faith, our church and more specifically for the ministries of the Deacons? To take it even one step further, what does it mean for each of us as Christians and followers of Jesus’ teachings?
After much fruitful and lively discussion, HOSPITALITY, as we are called to live it as Christians, is an active reaching out to people – all people. Hospitality is finding ways -as many as we can – to show the same kind of caring, compassion and love that Jesus showed to all persons. For us as Christians, it must be an “active” welcoming, embracing, wanting to serve, to care for the sick and the needy, to provide for the distressed, to nourish and to uplift! Did you notice these are verbs?
Our retreat focus was on what we are doing and how we can do it even better. How could we do it with an active mindset, intentionally, mindfully and enthusiastically for Jesus’ sake? How could we continue to reach out to our members, the community and the world beyond? How could be continue to be Jesus’ hands and feet to show our love for all as Jesus shows his love for us?
With this in mind, the Deacons resolved to meet with Session to see how our ministries may overlap – to see how Deacons could partner with the commissions to make our commitment to extend God’s love as Jesus commands even more effectively.
We spoke of ways in which we can engage all of you – the congregation – in participating with us to enlarge our reach of hospitality, to extend it in as many ways and as effectively as we can.
This month we highlight the roles of Christine Lazarus and Todd Child. Christine is Moderator of the Deacons which means she will now organize and preside over our monthly meetings while continuing her visitations to the sick and homebound and bereavement support. Todd has been coordinating the food pantry and reports that he processes orders for up to 4,0000 to 5,000 pounds of food each month. Can you imagine? 50,000 pounds of food a year?
So, the next time you see any one of your Deacons at church why not take a few minutes to ask, “What can I do? How can I help? How can I, too, become part of the “radical hospitality” Jesus calls us each to show to our brothers and sisters?
“And you shall be blessed – and you shall be blessed.”
Carol Thorne-Gaetani for the Deacons