There is wonderful ol’ timey Gospel hymn called, “The Model Church.” The First line says, “Well, wife, I’ve found the model church, and worshipped there today/It made me think of good old times, before my hair was gray…”
The old man in the song goes on to praise the Church because it was “finer built” like “years ago” but, “it was not built for show.” He wasn’t made to sit at the back, but because he “was old and deaf” and “poor” he was given “a pleasant pew.” He praised their singing too, for it was as if, “the angel choir, struck all their harps of gold.” The preacher too was good and preached the, “simple gospel truth,” fit for “humble men” and “hopeful youth.”
As good as we are at St. Paul’s; I doubt any of us would make the claim that we are the perfect model Church. We all have rolling in our heads somewhere that silly old saying about never joining a perfect church, because then, it won’t be perfect anymore. It is a healthy position to know that we can improve ourselves. We can deepen our commitment to the love of God and continue our journey in faith despite the fact that there are finer building than our building, finer choirs than our choir and finer preachers than our preacher.
Jesus, in our Gospel today says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” He is speaking to a deeply significant paradox (a true statement(s) that seems like a contradiction) about the nature of hospitality. Ultimately our goal in being an inviting and welcoming congregation is be, at one time, both host and guest. We are to be, at one time, bearers of Christ to one another and receivers of Christ from one another. And not just for an hour and a bit on Sunday mornings but in every waking moment.