It being the week of 4th of July, I think we should talk about fireworks. When I was a kid, I was afraid of a few things. Two of the big ones were roller coasters and fireworks (I was also afraid of cows, but that is another story for another time). As I reflect on it, it’s because I didn’t care for loud things. I had terrible ears as a kid with constant infections and swimmers ear, and I did not like loud things because they would hurt my ears. Then over the years the fear grew, and when I would go to six flags with my youth group just like ours did this past Thursday, I would have to sit out while all of my friends stood in line and rode the rides.
I was determined not to pass this fear onto my children, so even though I still don’t care for fireworks, and still get nervous for roller coasters, I’m the one who rides with them. I try to put on a brave face and watch fireworks because they like them. I feel slightly embarrassed at how free they are to ride roller coasters without a care in the world, but also slightly accomplished that I was able to help them feel safety that I never was able to achieve. I see it as a form of hospitality.
I know that a lot of things we do at church can be intimidating for a lot of people. It can be intimidating to be new in a place where it feels like everybody already knows what’s going on. It can be intimidating to be somewhere where it feels like people have it all figured out when we stress and strain throughout our day. It can be intimidating to sing hymns we’ve never heard before and everyone else knows them. I hope that we can practice a form of hospitality where people can feel free and secure in their presence here at Embry Hills. That because of this church, they can enjoy the full joy of a life with God because people shepherded our fears with us. And that barriers, that would have kept us from being with one another, can come down for those who are following.