Free Hugs

Free Hugs
Acts 21:17 “When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.”

Travelling a lot means I am forever being welcomed. Thankfully I have never had a bad welcome. My most outlandish reception was that of a brass band who could not be faltered for their noise! Amongst the many garlands of flowers and head dresses, scarves, plaques and other trinkets, the stand-out gift has to be a knitted tie I received from an African church which has the words “We love Rev Paul Hudson” down the front. I have never found the right occasion to wear that tie! 
Today is a Sunday and people will arrive at Church and be met by the usher or the welcome team or the doormen or the bouncers, (whichever part of the world and the Church you are from!)

I think those people who stand at the church door have the biggest job in the church. Get this job wrong or give it to the wrong person and you may find no one comes to church. The welcome is crucial. Not a sloppy welcome neither an austere one, it has to be just right.

Do you live your life embracing warmly those who come near you?

What about the ungodly? Or even the strangers to you? Are you warm towards them?

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:46-48 

The Message translates today’s verse, “In Jerusalem, our friends, glad to see us, received us with open arms.”

That is our position. Open arms. 

We worship Jesus who opened his arms and was crucified for our sins. We worship with hands open and arms wide. And in the same way when whoever approaches us, our friends, strangers and even our enemies then let us open our arms and receive warmly. It is the position of God.

Several years ago there was a new craze called ‘Free hugs’ and I remember showing a film clip of some people on the streets of the USA giving hugs to complete strangers if they wanted one. The idea was that it was a way of expressing the love of God to them. It appeared to be very successful. We tried this on the streets of my town for awhile but it fizzled out fairly quickly. Maybe our town were not ready for such liberation!

Today is a Sunday. It is a good day to hug someone. But tomorrow is Monday and perhaps people need a hug more then than today!

Above all just warm up a bit. Nothing is achieved by being cold and stand-offish.

Pauls team with all their fears about coming to Jerusalem still prevalent would have been given a whole lot of peace by being received as they were. 

It’s amazing how disarming and empowering a warm welcome can bring. Go on be a great receptionist today, who knows you may even entertain Angels! 

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