A Message from Pastor Matt

September 11, 2019

Church News

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

The Gift of Hospitality

Shellenberger Park was bustling on the evening of Friday, August 16th during our first ever “Love for the World” event.  We welcomed 27 community partners and almost 200 visitors to our church as we focused on the needs of children and families near and far.  Many of the guests were from Somerset County, but we also welcomed partners from as far away as Pittsburgh and ones with a global reach like Church World Service.  These ministry partners cover a diverse set of needs ranging from housing and food needs to refugee education and resettlement.  We welcomed therapy goats from Trinity Farms in Cambria County and heard learned about local learning opportunities through the Mary Bieseker Library.  

Many themes drew the whole event together:  serving children and families, offering services to improve the lives of the youngest in our community, and good food and fellowship.  The theme that has struck me lately is a spiritual one:  hospitality.  Each of these organizations and the whole event itself embody of spirit of hospitality.  The apostle Paul actually lists hospitality as one of the gifts of the Spirit.  Hospitality goes far deeper than a smile and a handshake, or even providing refreshments.  Opening one’s self up to another person is at the core of hospitality.  The opening up of self means being vulnerable with sharing yourself with others.  Trust, love, hope, and expectation undergird a hospitable way of life.  

In our world full of suspicion, doubt, anger, and anxiety hospitality can seem almost like a revolutionary act.  That’s why I think we had such a great response to “Love for the World.”  We invited others to come together for an evening of authentic fellowship and hospitality.  One young mother who attended shared the following observation with us at the conclusion of the event, “I can tell when I’m loved and I feel real love here.”  Real love and hospitality not only made “Love for the World” possible, but also resulted in the community opening itself up to provide back to school items from 111 children in the county.  Real love and hospitality made it possible for two Christian pastors from two different tradition and a local Muslim imam to join in worship that declared that God unequivocally loves and cares for children and families.  Real love and hospitality motivated over 40 members and friends of our church give their time and energy to help plan, set up, and clean up after the event.  

Hospitality and love may not seem like a big deal, but they can be revolutionary forces for good in a world where problems seem insurmountable and divisions deep.  Hospitality—opening yourself up to share your life with others—is foundational to ministry and to Christ’s saving work.  Let us commit to opening ourselves up to our community and world as we dare to love and welcome others into the fellowship of God’s beloved community.

May God bless our journey,

Pastor Matt

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2 Comments on “A Message from Pastor Matt”

  1. Rev Ray & Louise Brown Says:

    Pastor Matt: Great message Aug 10, 2019.
    Bouncing back. Ray & Louise Brown, Selinsgrove, Pa.


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