Fourteen years ago – August, 2001 – the last of 895 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired on television. For over thirty years, Mister Rogers taught us to be good neighbors…to practice hospitality.
Hospitality is one of the primary commands of the Old Testament law. It was a daily practice in the life of Jesus. We have very naturally made it a practice at First Baptist Greenville; it’s part of our ethos. Several weeks ago, Springfield Baptist Church’s electrical power was knocked out by a seasonal storm. We welcomed them onto our campus for their 148th church anniversary. We moved our cars to create parking, moved their food from automobiles to the Fellowship Hall and delightfully gave time and effort to insure they had a comfortable place to worship. On August 1st, we welcomed members of our church and community to a rich, deep, inspiring retreat with the St. John’s Bible. This past week we hosted GAIHN (Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network) families at our church. Sunday morning, greeters were at each door shaking hands, giving directions, sharing hugs. We live the practice of hospitality.
On August 29-30, we will have another opportunity to practice hospitality. I will be speaking at the Summer Bible Conference at Augusta Heights Baptist Church. I’ll be addressing one of my favorite biblical texts and themes: The Spiritual Practice of Hospitality – A Study of the Book of Ruth. Many of you heard me teach this book three years ago. Feel free to drop by Augusta Heights Baptist and get a refresher. That Sunday, August 30, I will ‘pulpit swap’ with Greg Dover. I’ll complete my sharing of the Book of Ruth there, and he will be preaching for you here. I know you’ll welcome him and be hospitable…you always are…Mister Rogers would be proud…