You know that way where you are invited to a house, and they welcome you, and it feels amazing.
After getting off a transatlantic flight, I was welcomed by my beautiful friends, they met me, and made food for me, set a fun table, and even played ‘ bagpipe’ music. The fun and the banter ( and even the music) expressed a deep feeling of acceptance and love. It is such a meaningful thing to be welcomed and loved.
I think of people who feel lonely or invisible, and how hard life can be. We can all begin to doubt ourselves, and to question our value. People’s stories are often full of misunderstanding and rejection, which can spiral into depression.
Everyone wants to be heard, understood and valued, to be seen. I wonder how we can do this better, in families, in society. There are always people that we find difficult, but even if we prayed more for each other, if we recognised the positive, and were kinder, that would be a start. It can take a while to get to forgiveness, but even civility can be a starting place.
When we are welcomed and shown hospitality, especially that space to be, that is so healing in itself, for when we relax, then we have more insight, we see things more clearly, and we are more open to learning. And we need to learn, to grow in our understanding and our faith.
I love the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15, where the young man has tried to go it alone, to be independent, but he falls into bad company, squanders his money, and he has nothing left. He decides to go back to his father’s house and beg for mercy. He must have felt so ashamed, at letting everyone down, and being such a failure. It was a very public humiliation, as he walked back along that path to his family home.
Despite the fact that the son had been away for a long time, the Father is looking out for him. He welcomes him, gives him the best robes, and kills the fatted calf for him. He has to welcome him because once he was lost, but now he is found. He is welcomed, accepted and there is a place for him.
I wonder if we are craving acceptance, a place where we are known and loved. By the grace of God, this is what the Christian faith offers us, a God who reaches out to us in love and grace, who longs for us to know his saving love. We are all so loved, if only we can receive it.
Gracious and hospitable God, You are so patient and loving with us, even though we do not deserve it. We stamp our feet, go off on the wrong path, whilst proudly thinking we know best. And then when it goes wrong, we are so ashamed and downhearted. Lord Jesus, thankyou that You don’t reject us, but look upon us with mercy. Thankyou for the story of the forgiving Father, and that You welcome Your prodigal sons and daughters home with such a tender love. When we feel far from You, lost in the darkness, may we know the prompting of your spirit, bringing us into your living presence here on earth, and to know your generous welcome of love and light, acceptance and care. For Jesus sake, Amen