Years ago, the Rule of St. Benedict was written as a manual for monks living together in a community of faith. It is full of practical advice related to working in the kitchen, serving at mealtime; speaking honestly, honoring the silence when necessary; and caring for those who are sick, sharing empathy for them. One other aspect of living together in a community of faith is welcoming a guest. It says, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
The life of a monastery bends towards the practice of hospitality, showing the “courtesy of love.” Upon arrival or in the wake of a departure, guests are treated with great care and concern because it reflects welcoming Christ. The life of the church shares this in common with the life of a monastery, as we welcome each other and the stranger into our midst. This happens each week when we gather for worship, but it also happens on special occasions.
On Thursday, February 23, we will welcome a longtime friend to Auburn First Baptist, as the Reverend Terri Byrd comes to speak. Terri Byrd is the Coordinator of Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and she will share with us about the work of CBF. We are grateful she is coming, and we look forward to her being with us.
We will also welcome our friends from the First Presbyterian Church and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Wednesday, March 1. Last fall, we joined together for a Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging event, where we packaged 17,000 meals to send to places of critical need, fighting hunger. We are gathering on March 1 at 6:00 p.m. for a joint Ash Wednesday service at Auburn First Baptist.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is the forty-day journey of preparation to Holy Week, including the crucifixion on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter morning. This is a season of the Church Year, marked by prayer and preparation, which focuses our attention on the heart of our faith. It captures the attention of the Church around the world, so we will join with our friends from these churches, welcoming them to AFBC, as we cast our attention towards the journey of Lent.
As we do each week, we will welcome guests like we are welcoming Christ, offering the “courtesy of love.” We are thankful for the friends and strangers we meet along the way. Through the practice of hospitality, we can experience and offer the love of God.