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Weekly message from Neighborhood Church: Giving presence the Christmas

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

The word hospitality in the Bible literally means “love of strangers.” It is a challenge and an encouragement from God to treat people with dignity and respect through kindness, care, time, and attention. It’s being friendly and treating people in a warm, generous way. It’s not just giving a present but giving presence. It is taking the time to notice, to engage in a conversation, to give eye contact and show value to another through sharing a moment.

I have a friend here in town. I’ll call him ‘Fred,’ not his real name. Fred is a bit of a wanderer. I see him at the car wash, around the local shops and restaurants. Most people try to avoid him as he is a bit expressive, loud at times, and goes off on rants with some intensity. Whatever his condition, he is a precious creation of God (see Psalm 139:13-16). Not only that, like all humans, he is made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26). This means, as Got Questions explains (a great online resource to explore probing biblical questions, see gotquestions.org), that we were made to resemble God and the image of God. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, fits them for the dominion God intended them to have over the earth, and enables them to commune with their Maker. It is a likeness: mentally, morally, and socially.‘Fred’ has value and in seeking to live out those scriptures that call us to be hospitable and care about people, I sought to take the time to interact with him.

Leviticus 19:33-34 When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

In one of my adventuresome interactions with Fred, he stopped in mid-conversation and said, “Thank you.” I said, “You’re welcome, but for what?” He replied, “For seeing me.” Presence was his appreciated gift.

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

Let’s love with presence. In the rush of the holidays, why not make time to be present with someone, a family member, a coworker, a fellow student, a neighbor, a person in line at the store, a person you happen to meet at the mall, your letter-carrier, or maybe even a long-ago friend. See them and make a contact. It may turn into a conversation or just a short exchange. But even in that, you are giving presence.

Church is a great place to practice presence with others. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. Our website has all the information you need for times and locations of all our Sunday gatherings. We would love for you to join in. You can also find us online at neighborhoodchurch.com. As well, if you would like to view any of our past worship gatherings or videos, visit our YouTube channel, or just search Neighborhood Church Cypress or Neighborhood Church Los Alamitos on their YouTube site.

Seeking to give the gift of presence along with you,

Mike

This article was written by Dr. Mike McKay, Lead Pastor of Neighborhood Church.