Dear First Pres, 

   This past Saturday I had the privilege of officiating the wedding of Alyssa Smith (daughter of Doug & Suzanne Smith) and Matt Merritt. They chose a passage of Scripture that I had never used for a wedding before: 1 Peter 4:7-11. The centerpiece for the sermon was verse 8 which says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." But as I think about our Easter weekend ahead, I am pondering the next verse.
   1 Peter 4:9 says, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." There's much to be said about the ministry of hospitality as described in Scripture that I don't have time to share here, except to say that Christian hospitality is a powerful way to make the Kingdom of God manifest. When we host people with love, compassion, honor, and integrity we demonstrate the love of our Father in heaven.
   This Sunday we will likely have twice as many people in our sanctuary as we do on a normal Sunday (I'm praying for 1200). We've worked hard to plan a worship service that gives a clear presentation of the Gospel and invites the congregation to truly worship our Living God. Many of us will be engaged in some way up front to lead the service, but the vast majority of us will be participating from the pews. And, even though a lot of attention will be given to what happens on the platform, I hope you know that what happens in the pew, and on the patio, and in the parking lot is just as important. Your ministry of hospitality really matters.
   So, my encouragement to you as we approach this holy weekend is this: offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. How might that look on Easter? Here are some ideas:

Park further back in the parking lot to give our newcomers the best spots.
Say good morning to those who are walking in at the same time that you are.
Be ready to slide over and make room in "your" pew for others (and do that with a smile).
If you don't recognize the folks sitting near you, introduce yourself and say "Happy Easter".
Lead the way in participating in the worship service: sing boldly, pray passionately, and keep your cell phone in your pocket.
Stick around after the service and look for folks you don't know ... then go introduce yourself to them and engage in conversation. Make sure no one is sitting or standing alone.
If the Lord leads, invite someone into your afternoon plans for the day.

   Meanwhile, please be praying for God to move in powerful ways among us as we all gather for worship and then go on mission with Jesus.


P.S. Tonight, please join us for the Maundy Thursday service at 7:00pm.I have always found it a wonderful way to prepare my heart for the Resurrection celebration on Sunday.