Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:43-44

One-time, one-time several years ago, Felicia and I had a special memory. We ate dinner at Canlis restaurant in Seattle. One-time only and it was amazing. To be honest, I don’t remember what I had for dinner, what appetizers or entrees I enjoyed. I only remember the company and the hospitality. We enjoyed dinner with friends and we were treated to extravagant hospitality.

From the moment we arrived in the parking lot we were engaged, welcomed, and cared for at every turn. Our car doors were opened; we walked in, as our car disappeared. The maitre d’ greeted us, took Felicia’s coat, and walked with us to our table, thanking us for coming and asking if we were celebrating a special occasion. Felicia’s chair was pulled back slightly, allowing her to gracefully take her spot at a perfectly prepared table.

The dinner lasted for hours, the conversation was lively, and the servers seemed to anticipate our every need. I ordered a glass of wine after seeking the advice of the sommelier. Later I asked him the name of wine that I was drinking, and when it was time to leave, he brought me a little Canlis bag that contained the wine label. We pushed back from the table and headed for the door. There was the maitre d’ holding Felicia’s coat in front of the fireplace, warming the inside for her comfort. Outside our car was idling.

A meal at Canlis is expensive, but for a special occasion it is worth every penny. The food was outstanding I am sure, but it was the hospitality that left a lasting impression.

Every Sunday morning people come to TLC. It takes a lot of nerve to come to a church for the first time. Visitors are a little nervous, apprehensive, unsure what their experience will be, wondering if worship will be user-friendly, hoping that they will be welcomed.

Every Sunday morning they come, most times they are new to Whidbey Island, but others come as a result of some unspeakable loss, or devastating diagnosis.

On Sunday morning we work at Canlis. We are the servants of Jesus, called by Jesus. We work here, we set the table, we make the cookies, we welcome the guests that Jesus invited. We have no say in the guest list. The greeters are the first line of welcome, offering a smile and a handshake. The ushers are the maitre d’s. They too welcome the guests, offer them the morning menu and a smile as they guide them to a comfortable seat.

Hospitality is our central calling. It is opening the door for the Gospel to be heard. If our visitors don’t see Jesus in us, then their hearts may be hardened, and they may not see Jesus in Karl’s songs or in the sermon.

I read an article by a pastor who took his family to Disneyland. On Sunday morning before going to the Magic Kingdom their family found a local Lutheran Church. He later compared the hospitality that they experienced at the church and at Disneyland. It was a reminder that hospitality lays the groundwork for the hearing of the Gospel.

Every Sunday morning, they come, the guests of Jesus. Every Sunday morning, we all work at Canlis. Your assignment that morning does not come from Lana or Robin, it comes from Jesus.

See you at Canlis/TLC.
Pastor Jim

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