Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hospitality- Accepting Others' Invitations

Accepting Others’ Invitations || Alexandra Kuykendall |

A blanket on the floor. A few cookies, goldfish crackers and carrot sticks sitting on a mishmash of plastic dishes. It all looked a little familiar. I knew where those cookies had come from and wondered how this little hostess managed to get to the package stored high up in the cupboards. Most important to this familiar scene was a girl dressed in her finest ragged princess dress thrown over the day’s regular leggings and long-sleeved T-shirt, wearing her most important accessory: a smile stretched across her face, proud of the picnic tea party she was offering. I’ve lived some version of this invitation many times in my house. I’m raising four hostesses who have spent some magic preschool years creating a “feast” and setting a table with me in mind. They’ve then approached me with “Mommy come see!”, “Sit with me!” or “I made this for you.” Turning down their invitations was never an option. I always needed to sit and admire all they had done, verbalizing my appreciation with every bite. To not, would have been to minimize their hard work in setting a space for me. Hospitality is a spirit of welcome - a posture of inclusion. It can be carried out in practical ways that often involve nourishing our bodies through food and a place to sleep. We see Jesus experiencing hospitality throughout his short life. He accepted many invitations of the mishmash sort, meals specially prepared, and places to lay his head. In most of these stories he was not the host, but the invitee accepting the gracious, yet imperfect invitation of others to welcome him in. As we consider the idea of setting the table for someone to come and join us, let us not forget to accept the invitations our neighbors offer as well. Because when we do, we acknowledge their hard work and their efforts to set a space for us. We see the special trouble they’ve gone to, no matter how humble the offering, to make us feel at home. Accepting others’ invitations is as much hospitality as offering them. Because it is the spirit of welcome we all long for.

DEEPER DISCUSSION: • When is it difficult for you to accept a neighbor’s invitation for hospitality? Why do you think it is? • Who would you like to spend more time with? How can you say “yes” to their invitations with more frequency? • How has Jesus set an example for you to accept others’ invitations? How can you bring your spirit of welcome to another’s space?

Alexandra Kuykendall, a trusted voice for Christian women, speaks on issues of how faith impacts everyday life. She is the cofounder of The Open Door Sisterhood, a community of women working to be world changers for good right where they are. She cohosts a podcast and retreat under the same name. Alex has authored four books, her most recent, Loving My Actual Neighbor. Alex lives in the shadows of downtown Denver with her husband, Derek, and their 4 daughters who range in age from 16 to 7. You can connect with her at

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Perfect Advocate

Jesus – The Perfect Advocate || International Justice Mission |

In Luke 4, Jesus returns to Nazareth to begin his ministry. In the synagogue, he reads from the words of Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. - Luke 4:18-19 We have no better model for advocating for the oppressed than Jesus. In everything he says and does, he champions for all of us; we all need rescue, redemption and love. On earth, he was never afraid to confront leaders on their shortcomings. And he willingly acted against laws that oppressed the poor, like not healing on the Sabbath, and criticized religious leaders for misusing the temple. Jesus lived a life of radical love to all those in need of a savior. His challenges to authority led to his death, but he never strayed from his message of love and justice. Christ is the perfect defender and advocate. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

- Hebrews 7:25 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. - 1 John 2:1

Let’s pray these things together: Pray against the powers perpetuating injustice and preying upon the poor and vulnerable. Praise God for his promises to bring freedom and restoration through Jesus Christ. Ask God to show you how to be his hands and feet for preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, and setting the oppressed free.

• Think about places in the Bible where you see Jesus as an advocate for the needy, the afflicted, the outcast and the oppressed.
• Read Luke 10:25-37 and think about how this story teaches us how we should stand up for the vulnerable.
• In what ways did Jesus model advocacy for the poor?
• How can we model the balanced attitude of justice and love like Jesus?

This study is based on a devotional created by Jessica Horner, an IJM Church Mobilization intern. Used with permission.