The Hospitality of God
On April 25, women gathered at First Mennonite Church in Newton, KS for a salad potluck and to hear Jenny Gehman present on,"The Hospitality of God." The event was sponsored by the Western District Women in Mission. Jenny and others who couldn't join in person joined virtually, making this a hybrid event. All together, approximately 50 women participated.
Jenny is a retreat speaker, spiritual director, and freelance writer from Pennsylvania. She invited us to experience God as our "holy host" by graciously receiving God's hospitality to us. Imagine if we, like the disciples, were around a campfire with Jesus or experiencing God as a safe-house for us during difficult times. She then invited us to embrace God's hospitality for ourselves. How can we be a safe place for ourselves and tend and mend to our own needs? Finally, Jenny concluded by emphasizing that we, made in the image of God, have a call to extend the hospitality of God to others.
The next in person event sponsored by Western District Women in Mission will be our annual women/girls retreat at Camp Mennoscah on September 9/10.
Wendy Funk Schrag
Chair of Western District Women in Mission
Jenny writes at www.jennygehman.com. One of her featured pieces puts this call to accept God's invitation of hospitality into the words of sisterhood. Continue on for, "Stand By Me" about how "God is a lot like my sister". "Stand by Me" was originally published at: https://jennifergehman.substack.com/p/stand-by-me
I will not let you face this alone. Close to a dozen years ago my mom and I were visiting my younger sister, Christy, in Washington State. I was in the midst of a rather excruciating year and the three of us were on our way to tour some peaceful Japanese gardens. I received a troubling phone call as we were turning into the parking lot. Mom and Christy were in the front seats of her van and I was clear in the back (the middle row being taken up with car seats). The call ended with me in tears.
My sister pulled into a parking space, stopped the car, and began to climb over the seats to reach me. To be by my side. And that's when she said it: I will not let you face this alone.
She could not fix it. Could not wish it or pray it away. Could not spare me from it. But she could do one thing. She could enter it. And so she did.
I don't think I'll ever forget the moment of her breaking into my world and my pain in such a simple and profound way. Just to be with me.
And here's what I'm noticing: God is a lot like my sister.
One story stands out to me right now. It's when the apostle Paul was in prison (for the umpteenth time) and facing possible death this time around. And he was feeling very much alone in it.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support," he wrote to Timothy, "everyone deserted me. But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength. Yes. This confirms it. God is very much like my sister as He climbs over obstacles and bypasses barriers to reach us wherever we are. "I won't let you face this alone," God says, as She takes our hands and holds us tight.
Ponder: What are you facing? What do you need?
The apostle Paul said the Lord stood by his side and gave him strength (2 Timothy 4). In another scripture, Paul recorded that, during a shipwreck, God’s angel stood at his side, and said, "Don’t give up … don’t be afraid" (Acts 23). Imagine Jesus or an angel coming to stand by your side. What do they give you? What do they say?
Practice: When Paul told Timothy about those who had not stood by him, he went on to say, "May it not be held against them." Is there anyone who has failed you in this way? By whom you feel deserted? What might it be like to name the truth of this and then release them as Paul did?
Write a thank you note to someone who has stood by your side.
Play: Our song of the week is none other than Stand by Me recorded around the world by Playing for Change.
Pray: Stand by me and give me ________.
Jenny Gehman Writer, Speaker + Spiritual Director