Welcome to the Holy Spirit Inn

December 5, 2010

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Isaiah 11: 1-2

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the respect of the Lord.

 

 

A Look at Today’s Scriptures

Our reading today from the prophet Isaiah foretells the coming of Jesus, hundreds of years before Jesus was born! Isaiah’s book is sometimes called the Fifth Gospel.  Isaiah had remarkable insights into the coming of Christ.  Please not that some early translators used the word “rose” instead of the word “shoot” in the first verse. (A rose shall come out from the stump of Jesse…) This reading from Isaiah is the reason that we see the Christmas rose, which is the symbol of Jesus, at the beginning of our series of brand new stained glass windows. Also, the very last image in our series of stained glass windows is also a rose, symbolizing that Christ is the Beginning and the End, that He is the Alpha and the Omega.

 

Isaiah is saying that a beautiful rose will spring forth out of this stump of a bush that looks dead and dry, the rose that will tell us what God is like and the rose that will bless people everywhere, and that rose is Jesus Christ. Isaiah is predicting what Jesus will bring to us on earth.

 

In the Epistle of Romans 15: 4-13 today, we see a song of encouragement.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. The scriptures are written so that we will be steady and that we may have hope. Our God is the God of steadiness and encouragement. He is with us when times are good and He is with us when times are harder, He is always with us. Verse 6 says, So that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is encouraging us to live in harmony, to blend our voices with others.  Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.  I am so proud of this congregation because you know how to make people feel welcome; you make them feel comfortable in our church.  You know how to make people who are new to our setting feel relaxed and welcome.  I am tremendously proud of this.

 

Week after week, Barbara Ewick and her faithful team sees to it that the church is decorated, and that refreshments are provided so that we, as a church family can continue to bless each other and the visitors to our church through the ministry of "radical hospitality".  God bless you, Barbara and friends.  You know how to make people feel welcome.

 

Welcome to the Holy Spirit Inn

I was thinking about the above passages in relation to our church.  It seems to me that our church is like a wonderful Inn. In days of old, travelers would travel for hours and hours over bumpy roads by horse or by stagecoach and as the cold night closed in, they would see a candle in a window, of a distant Inn. How they must have looked forward to the Inn at such times, knowing that they would find some respite there.

 

The church is like that. The owner and Chief Inn Keeper is Jesus Christ. When you come to the Inn, He has something wonderful in store for you. I am just the innkeeper’s assistant, the manager of the Inn, if you will. I do my best to do what the chief innkeeper wants me to do. You are like the travelers along the road. You go through your work week, doing all that must be done; but the world tosses you around, doesn’t it? It is not always easy.

 

You come to the Inn, the door is open and Jesus welcomes you. You find three things at the Inn. You find a basin of water, a beautiful, big, loaf of bread. You also find the beautiful colors of the sunrise. Think about those three images-the basin of water, the loaf of bread and the colorful sunrise.

 

The Basin of Refreshment

The basin is a symbol of refreshment. How has the world beat you up this week, how has it wounded you? Take water from the basin and splash the water on your face, and be reminded of the waters of your Baptism. Let the power of the Holy Spirit wash all that away, wash away all the limitations, the regrets, all the things that held you back or wounded you or bruised you. Let the waters of the Holy Spirit refresh you. This week, even as you wash your face, be reminded of this prayer, Thank you God, for the waters of my Baptism that refresh and strengthen. God wants you to be refreshed by the waters of the Holy Spirit Inn.  These are the waters of forgiveness, of letting go of the negative so that you can accept the positive.

 

The Bread of Restoration

You are restored at the Holy Spirit Inn. The loaf of bread symbolizes spiritual food. Think of your favorite Scriptures that have sustained you through the hardest times in your life.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;

• The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness and goodness.

• I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor anything in all creation shall ever be able to

  separate us from the love of God.  

Such thoughts and words are spiritual food that we share here at the Holy Spirit Inn, may they be blessings to you.

 

May you be blessed by the refreshment of the Communion table, that remarkable mysterious meal that is hosted by our Lord, Jesus. May it bring you a feeling of closeness to God. May you be refreshed and strengthened by the fellowship of faith represented by our circle at the end of the service, represented by our Fellowship time, which is a continuation of the blessing of Communion, Sunday by Sunday.  May this be a place where you are restored.

 

The Sunrise of a Fresh Start

May you have a restart, because that is what happens at the end of a long night. You wake up and see the brilliant sunrise.  The sunrise is the symbol that God has not given up on the world - or on you.  The sunrise washes the world with brilliant light.  It is like a trumpet call to start things afresh.  With the sunrise, you can start your journey again, refreshed and restored.

 

As you leave this place today, may you be reenergized for the living of the week ahead. Thank you for staying at the Holy Spirit Inn - our Church, the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He invites you to come back again.

 

God loves you, I do too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2010 Anthony J. Godlefski