Summary: Sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 10: 40 – 42 / Welcome
Intro: You’ve heard of the Dead Sea? It is so salty it contains no fish or plant life. There are no outlets. Water pours into it, but nothing flows out. --- The same can be said of some churches and even some Christians. It is possible for people to attend church, Bible studies, listen intently to wonderful sermons offered by their clergy and yet seem lifeless and unproductive. They have several “inlets” but no “outlets.”
I. Today’s society seems to be focused more on “What’s in it for me?” especially when it comes to church.
A. VS. 41 addresses just such a concern. It speaks of the “prophet’s reward” and the “righteous man’s reward.”
B. A reward is defined: 1) as something given in return for service or merit, 2) money offered, 3) compensation; profit; return. The Greek word here is MISTHON. It is a common word that literally means a payment of wages or something earned.
C. The worldly part of us assumes that there is something to be gained from “receiving” one who is sent; to believe that we are going to get something for “welcoming others.”
II. The danger here is to place emphasis on the OUR RECEIVING instead of the WELCOMING.
A. The Biblical intent and emphasis here is not on what we will get if we are hospitable and welcoming. The emphasis is on the fact that we are being called to WELCOME or RECEIVE.
B. An Irish liturgical theologian at Yale Divinity School (Siobhan Garrigan) in her book, The Real Peace Process, tells of being welcomed at a Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland by 2 ladies who were asking visitors their names as the entered. Hearing the names, the 2 women would draw conclusions about the cultural and religious identity of each. Those with Protestant names were welcomed warmly and shown to their seats. Those with apparently Catholic names were told they were surely in the wrong church and sent on their way.
C. I cannot tell you how many times Barbara and I have spoken with people from this community who have said, “I visited that church ONCE.” When asked to visit again, they never come. Why? --- You never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression.
III. Fortunately, that was then, and this is now. Or is it?
A. Look around this room. Is there someone here you have seen before and yet you do not know who they are? Is there a new face that you don’t recognize? If so, make an effort to get to know them. Perhaps make an appointment to visit with them later this week.
B. When you get home, I want you to take your church directory and go through the list of names. When you come to a name to which you cannot attach a face, pick up the phone and invite that person to your home for a visit.
C. I want to leave you with a survey which I want each of you to seriously consider and complete.
Conclusion: What is the “reward” for doing these things? What’s in if for you? NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! But in welcoming “these little ones” into your life or into your home, you welcome Christ Jesus. VS. 40 – “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.”