Updated: Oct 26, 2018
BY PASTOR JOHN CHA
Ding dong … knock knock knock.
My little 7-year-old fist began knocking on the big, red front door.
Mrs. Paul opened the door.
“Is Mark home?”
“Why hello, John! Come in, Sweetie! Yes, Mark’s downstairs. You can head down.”
This was the first time I stepped foot in the home of a NON-Korean. My mind was processing at lightning-speed … What the?! I don’t need to take off my shoes at the doorway?! … Their house smells so … American. She called me “Sweetie”! The way they decorated their house … all their furniture actually match. Their dog keeps jumping on me. Really feels weird wearing my shoes in the house …
My pulse begins to race faster. I start to feel more and more out of place in their house. Is this a mistake? And then I hear a reassuring and familiar voice. It’s Mark!
“Hey, John! Wanna play on my Atari? I just got the Adventure game cartridge!”
When I first stepped foot into Mark’s home, I immediately didn’t look at what Mark and I had in common. I looked at all our differences, and to be honest, I would’ve easily stopped going to my friend’s house.
But Mark welcomed me. Mark kept inviting me over. Mrs. Paul kept feeding me. Trixie their dog kept jumping on me. And Mark and my friendship grew. We both got the national high score on Atari Pinball and won matching Atari T-shirts (why am I sharing this?!). Mark and I talked about Jesus and about church while sitting on his porch swing. We both talked about girls that we liked, watched A-Team, and studied together. My stay at the Paul’s home started in 2nd grade, and I kept coming over until we graduated from high school. His home became my second home. I was welcomed. The Paul’s extended their hospitality to me.
Every Sunday, when I hear our front doors open and close before service, I know that there is someone who is at our front door. Every weekday, when someone introduces themselves for the first time in our small group or study group, there is someone who is at our front door …
Ding dong …. knock, knock, knock
“Is God home?”
I get excited! We can welcome. We can extend hospitality to our guests and friends. We can share in our common existence of brokenness and our common need for grace and for God. We can share the good news that just as we have been shown hospitality from God, He also extends hospitality to all through us. Ours is a call to be hospitable in Jesus.
Henri Nouwen, in his book Reaching Out, writes, “In our world full of strangers, estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbors, friends, and family, from their deepest self and their God, we witness a painful search for a hospitable place where life can be lived without fear and where community can be found … Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them a space where change can take place.”
There is so much more that can be written about hospitality at Open Door, but I will leave it simply with a knock at our door.
This Sunday and this week, another guest and friend will walk up to our door.
May we prepare to greet our guests and friends with warm words of welcome and hospitality.
Knock, knock, knock …
Pastor John Cha is the head pastor of Open Door Presbyterian Church.