Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
Over the course of the next year, I want to encourage us to practice and to nurture a spirit of hospitality here at Palmer. New rooms signs will gradually start to appear around our campus, for example. And now that our church staff is set after a season of retirements and transitions, some of the offices have been rearranged, including the movement of Sue Howard’s office to the front area of the church office so that she can cover the front desk and welcome folks when a volunteer isn’t sitting there.
This spirit of hospitality touches everything from how we reach out to help someone who seems a little lost in the middle of a worship service to offering a kind smile to a mother with young children who might be highly anxious about their restlessness. It takes into consideration how our Wednesday night classes, choir practices, and community dinners fit together and causes us to notice when an individual, couple, or family are alone at a table in the parish hall. Pausing for a moment to imagine how the stranger in our midst is feeling can make all the difference in the world. We are to embrace that person, created in the image of God, remembering that someone in the past received us and accepted us with the love of Jesus Christ too.
That’s really what it means to practice hospitality as Christians. For those who are guests with us today, the circle of friendship in this house of prayer includes you. In addition to the greeters who will be outside the front doors of the church after this liturgy, there will also be a member of the church staff at the bottom of the stairs in front of the altar who is available to speak with you about our life together here at Palmer. Stay for few minutes, bring your questions, and walk with us in God’s love.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector