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Posts Tagged ‘messy’

I was wondering about what to write about this evening so I had a scroll through recent photos and found this one taken on the way to the park (the big one – turn left at the top of the road) a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a fairly mundane picture of a street of scruffy Victorian terraced houses, with a not very spectacular rainbow. This street was added to our parish this year, in a reorganisation of boundaries in our deanery. But actually, when I look at it, it’s a pretty good summary of parish life.

There’s the beauty of the rainbow, bright colours in the sky – the symbol of hope – a sign of God’s never failing promises. So good to see a real one in the sky, in place of the many seen over this last year on doors and windows, those pictures of hope that people have held out in the face of the pandemic.

Those flecks of white on the photo aren’t a smeared camera lens, but snow which started falling as I walked up past the samosa shop on the corner. Snow takes us to the Psalms and our sins washed whiter than snow. The gospel in outline, so precious and so necessary for all of us who live in these streets.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

And the bins. The mess of life, in the way, and rather spoiling the photo. But useful and essential. Like all of us. Messy, sometimes in the way or spoiling things but as God’s people we’re useful and essential. The Lord wants us to bring that rainbow hope and offer the cleansing power of the gospel.

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We’ve not been feeding people all that much lately. I got a nasty virus after Christmas and seemed to lose steam all the way to Easter. Sunday lunches (our usual slot for planned hospitality) were confined to the Vicarage household plus Dreamer. And I almost began to think that it was too much hassle to have anyone else over on a Sunday at all.

But then, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a sunny weekend. And I was overcome with a desire to barbecue. And that seemed like an easier Sunday lunch to organise. So we invited a family we’d been meaning to invite over for ages. And then we thought about another family who we’d seen a lot over our Easter mission and the Vicar called them but they didn’t answer the phone. So then we invited someone else. And then the second family rang back. And we invited them too. And so it was that we ended up having 18 people for Sunday lunch.

And you know what? In the garden, with the old church hall trestle tables from the shed, lovely sunshine and lots of laughter, eighteen people seemed like a perfectly normal number. And after that, inviting a family of five for Sunday lunch this week didn’t seem like a big thing either. It was actually very lovely to talk to people and enjoy eating with them. Of course I knew that, but I’d forgotten. And then this week I read this lovely post about Scruffy Hospitality by Wesley Hill, and it helped me to remember that the purpose of hospitality is the cultivation of friendship, the sharing of lives. And cooking a bit of extra food is really not that much trouble. It really isn’t.

So I’m grateful this week for a renewed vision for hospitality: scruffy hospitality, messy hospitality, doable hospitality, just inviting people anyway hospitality, hospitality for the saints, hospitality for the stranger, hospitality without grumbling, hospitality that is a welcome and a blessing. And I’m praying that we’ll keep on getting together with the saints and with strangers, we’ll keep on inviting others into the Vicarage for laughing and talking and growing community, building the body. That’s my prayer this week.

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