First Congregational Church Winter Park
Daily Meditation: “Which One Are You?”
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone – and even by the truth itself. - 3 John 9-12 excerpts
Ah, not being welcomed at church. It’s a tale as old as time, it seems, as Diotrephes seems to be doing an excellent job of not embodying the Extravagant Welcome.
Whether it's people or ideas, how well do we welcome that which is new and maybe even different into our midst? I will never forget a Council meeting in my first church when the Christian Education Board had come up with a wonderful idea for something that they had discussed in earnest and at length and were very excited to share, and when they finally did one of the Patriarchs of the church sat there, folded his arms and said, “That’s never how we’ve done things here and as far as I’m concerned we never will.”
And immediately, the enthusiasm and energy of an entire Committee was extinguished and that idea died right there in that meeting. I’ll never forget that.
Being open and welcome to the new and unfamiliar can be uncomfortable - even scary - sometimes. However, being closed to it is a one-way ticket to alienation and irrelevance; especially in church. Diotrephes was even unwelcoming to his own family of believers, as opposed to Demetrius who welcomed all and thus was well spoken of by everyone.
That should inform us a bit about what it is to be welcoming to people and to ideas. Whether it's at church, at school, at work, in our communities and civic organizations, our leaders and our governments, even in our own families and small circles of true friends: are we Diotrephes or Demetrius?
The Truth itself, we’re told, speaks well of Demetrius because he is open and welcoming and does not seek to stop people or the hearts and minds they bring with them. How well do we do and live the same?
God Of Extravagant Welcome, may we be open to offering sacred hospitality to hearts and minds in our midst as we would likewise seek to be welcomed.