Photo by Enzo Sartori on Unsplash

I generally take my shoes off just inside the doorway of my house.  It’s something I’ve always done.  When guests might happen to come over, I’m quick to reassure them that we don’t mind if they leave their shoes on, but many also take off their shoes too.  This habit, in theory, keeps down the dirt that might get tracked into the house from the bottoms of our shoes.  More importantly, it’s a practice that reflects the relative comfort we have with our surroundings and where should we feel more comfortable than at home?

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”  Matthew 18:1-5

Last Sunday during worship, as has become the practice, I called out for some help with serving communion.  I was pleased to see quick responses from a couple of our youngest worshippers expressing an eagerness to be active participants in this moment that we share as a community each week.  When Avia Beary came forward to get her hands doused with sanitizer and to take the chalice from me, I noticed that she wasn’t wearing any shoes.  I hope the delight I felt while seeing this was plainly recognizable, even to the folks seated in the back of the sanctuary.

“Of course, she’s not wearing any shoes,” I thought to myself, “this is her home.”  Avia and her parents, Mischa & James, joined our Interim Sacred Settlement as “intentional neighbors” to help build the community of support we’ve gathered around Valerie and potentially future others coming out of chronic homelessness.  Feeling called into this adventure, the Bearys moved out of their home in downtown St. Paul and moved into our settlement, alongside Valerie, just before Christmas.  Avia has spent the past month exploring our building, grounds, and neighborhood.  And now it’s starting to feel like home.

If I’d had my wits about me that morning, I would have taken my shoes off too.  That’s exactly what I want us to feel when we come to the table, at God’s invitation, to be fed.  To feel welcomed, to feel comfortable, and to feel at home.

May God’s hope embrace you today. -Pastor Peter

Let us pray… God of welcome, when you extend an invitation to join you, help us to feel at home.  May the love we feel flow through our whole bodies, right down to our toes.  May the love we share be an act of radical hospitality, so comfortable that we’ll all want to take off our shoes.  Amen.