“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
The eagle eyed among you may have spotted that we read these verses last week. But they were a part of a much longer reading. And these three verses are worth spending some more time with.
For they speak of hospitality.
With our summer holiday season upon us, it's worth thinking about what hospitality means today, in this time and place.
If you remember, these verses and the longer section we read last week, were all part of Jesus' instructions to the disciples before he sent them out on mission.
Revved up, convinced by the ways of Jesus, just desperate to get out there and save the world, Jesus' disciples received these final words of wisdom. Words that probably rocked them more than all the other words put together. Words that should rock us too, today.
whoever gives even a cup of cold water Jesus said, whoever gives even a cup of cold water.
A cup of cold water is easily within our gift.
The problem is that we underestimate the value of a cup of cold water.
I'm not just meaning in relation to those who do not have clean water.
Or those, in other parts of the world who are dying of thirst.
I mean, here, in this place.
Those small gifts that we shrug off.
Those little acts that we think are of no consequence.
Those are the very things of which Jesus speaks in our gospel today.
Those are the very things that he honours.
We would rather indulge in grand gestures.
We would rather go the extra mile.
We would rather feel that we had put ourselves out for someone else.
Then we can feel good and valued,perhaps even worthy.
And yet here is Jesus reminding us that it is the smallest, seemingly insignificant acts that make all the difference.
So, let's think about those this morning.
All those things that you do day in, day out, because they are part of who you are:
When you open your blinds in the morning and look across the street to make sure your neighbours' blinds are open too - that is kingdom work.
When you drop off the paper or a carton of milk - that is kingdom work.
When you pop a card into the post to let someone know you are thinking of them - that is kingdom work.
When you decide not to tackle someone about their lack of courtesy - that is kingdom work.
When you find it in you to forgive- that is kingdom work.
When you bake a cake to take to someone bereaved- that is kingdom work.
When you overlook someone's grumpiness or awkward ways - that is kingdom work.
When you sit and listen to someone who is lonely or bereaved- that is kingdom work.
When you stand in the High Street, listening to someone offload - that is kingdom work.
When you extend a hand, a hug, a look of compassion- that is kingdom work.
When you take the time to have coffee.
Or admire the garden.
All this is kingdom work.
All this you are engaged in every day.
All this makes you fit to be called a disciple.
Having just heard Jesus speak about all the risks and dangers that come along with being a disciple, having heard him speak of persecution and rejection, we imagine that it must take some pretty grand gestures to be worthy of the name disciple.
We imagine that only the edgy and the dangerous stuff will be considered effective contributions to the kingdom.
Yet here is Jesus saying: even a cup of cold water is enough to make a difference.
Do not shrug off the good that you do.
It is kingdom work.
You are disciples making a difference in this place and time.
May we never underestimate the value of that kingdom work.
May we leave the business of saving the world to God.
And get on with growing the kingdom right where we are.
Even a cup of cold water says Jesus.
Know that YOU make a difference.
Thanks be to God.