featured graphic for Pastor Mike McKay and his wife Kristi of Neighborhood Church

Weekly message from Neighborhood Church: The Present of Presence!

1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

The word hospitality in the Bible literally means “love of strangers.” It is a challenge and an encouragement from God to treat all 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 giving the present of 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.

A while back, my family and I were out for some ice cream. It was one of those old-style creameries where they also served some sandwiches and such, but mostly the huge ice cream sundaes where the homemade whipped cream was slowing sliding off the side onto the plate. Their hot fudge milkshakes were my favorite. It was raining, so we quickly packed inside with the other customers and waited for a coveted seat.

As we hurried to get in, a man, shabbily dressed, with a cup of change in one hand, moved out from under the awning to let those of us waiting not get wet. He said nothing and had a kind expressionless look on his face. I watched, and as we moved inside out of the cold, he slowly moved back under the covering. We were all laughing and having fun, but I kept looking at this guy. He seemed to be invisible to all who passed by. We finally got our seats and ordered.

I looked again and decided to go out and talk to him. I found out his name was Mike (yes, my name too). I mentioned that and he smiled with broken and yellowed teeth. We talked about where he had been, the struggle he was having, and how he was just out asking for some money so he could buy some food. I asked if I could get him a sandwich. He said sure. He said he would prefer to wait outside as the owners had asked him not to come inside.

I went in and asked if they could make the meal to go for my new friend outside. The person behind the cash register asked why I would do this. I answered that 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 that we were made to resemble God and the likeness of God. It sets human beings apart from the animal world, equips 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. ‘Mike’ 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 and bless him with some food.

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.

I brought the bag out to Mike. He smiled and looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you.” But then he reached out his hand to shake mine and once our hands met, he pulled in a little and said, “Thanks for noticing me.” I think more than the sandwich, presence was the better gift.

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.

Let’s love with presence. We live in in isolated, separated, quarantined world. 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 the present of presence.

Church can be a good place to be present and learn better how to love our fellow humans. If you do not already have a church to attend, we would like to invite you to view or visit Neighborhood Church. We are a welcoming church and would love for you to connect with us! Our website has all the information you need for times and locations of all our Sunday gatherings. 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.