Scripture: Psalm 84
Key verse: (10) “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.”
Reflection: In a fairly literal sense, my friend Paul was a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. Paul spent his nearly nine decades of life as a member of the same church, which meant that when we spoke the words about his baptism being complete in death at his funeral, we did it from the very spot where he had received the water on his brow as an infant. From his very beginning to his very end, Paul had heard in that very same sanctuary the promises of God spoken over him again and again – promises like “in life and in death, we belong to God,” and “Come, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,” and, “Lo, I am with you unto even to the close of the age.”
Paul heard these promises, not as assurances that were meant only for him, but as blessings to be shared with everyone he met. By the time I met him at age 87, he was no longer the head greeter manning the sanctuary doors, but had a chair where he would sit and welcome people as they passed by in our greeting space. You couldn’t go to church there without knowing that Paul was glad you were there. It was a rare hospitality.
There is much debate these days about “models for hospitality” in churches, and it can be particularly motivated by an anxiety about dwindling numbers on church rolls. Should we be “attractional” (if we build it, they will come) or “missional” (let’s get out beyond these four walls) or “seeker sensitive” (every sermon needs to be geared toward an “unchurched” person), and the list goes on. These are important conversations to have, to be sure. But every time I find myself in one, I can’t help but think about the lesson that Paul taught me, which was that a genuine desire to convey your gladness over someone else’s presence is at the heart of Christian ministry. The rest is secondary.
MPPC is a large church, and we have lots of visitors every Sunday. It can be hard sometimes to know who is there every Sunday, who might be new, and who you may have even met before but can’t remember (be honest!). I wonder, though, what it might be like if we all considered ourselves “doorkeepers” the way Paul did, making an effort to convey genuine welcome to those we encounter in our own space. It can be awkward to hazard re-introducing yourself to someone you’ve met before, or to reach out to your pew neighbor you’ve sat next to but never exchanged names with over the years to make the acquaintance, but it can make a lasting impact on the person you greet. I wonder how you might answer the call to hospitality at the next opportunity, wherever you find yourself.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, thank you for the many ways you have reached out to me over the years through the fellowship and worship. Help me to share your blessings with others through true acts of hospitality, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].