Let There Be Hospitality

Let There Be Hospitality

In the Beginning . . .


There is an old, well-worn, and often repeated poem by James Weldon Johnson titled “The Creation.” Written in the style of an old African American sermon, the poem retells the first chapter of Genesis from God’s perspective. The poem begins, “And God stepped out onto space, and he looked around and said, ‘I’m lonely. I’ll make me a world.’” After surveying the creation of the sun, moon, stars, plants, and animals, God looks at the world he has created and pronounces, “I’m lonely still.”

It’s then that Johnson draws God into himself. “Then God sat down on the side of a hill where he could think. By a deep, wide river, he sat down with his head in his hands. God thought and thought until he thought, ‘I’ll make me a man!’”

My theology tells me that God is self-sufficient; my understanding of the nature and being of God tells me that he lacks nothing and needs for nothing. And yet, I love this sermon for what it teaches us about ourselves. Somewhere within the image of God locked inside each of us is the cry, “I’m lonely.” Created in his image together, our heart’s longing is for companionship. Unlike our Creator, we are not self-sufficient, and we only find our completion in relationship with one another.

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Why Would You Preach a Sermon Series on Death?

I am actually surprised at how few times I’ve been asked why I wanted to preach on death. I’ll admit, it’s not really the kind of topic that packs the house, but it has generated a lot of interest and some great responses.

I forewarned the congregation about a month in advance that the sermons in October would focus on death. “Not heaven, not hell, not eternity, but the very real and inevitable fact of our own deaths.” I wanted to take a practical and honest look at what we need to know before we die.

I do a lot of funerals. It’s not uncommon for me to encounter families who are totally unprepared for death. They haven’t talked about arrangements, wishes, what they don’t want, or anything else. When I meet with them they’re usually in too much shock to give me many details. I determined that I was going to do my best to make sure my people were better prepared. Continue reading