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"All Means Y’all" 5th Sunday After Pentecost - July 2, 2023

Welcome to St Andrews! If you are visiting for the first time or were baptized in this church, in person and online, we’re happy and we’re blessed to welcome you!

Welcoming someone is kind of a big deal in our faith. It is after all the hallmark of hospitality. That’s why Jesus concludes his instruction for mission in Matthew’s Gospel today by teaching the disciples how one is to properly welcome a person and also which persons to welcome. There are different ways to welcome somebody when you first meet them, aren’t there? I think there are 2 to be exact. One way to welcome a stranger, the way Jesus teaches, accomplishes to make a person feel like they belong in this place. And the other way makes a person feel like they must work on fitting in.

Having immigrated, I know the difference between belonging and fitting in too well. While my process of immigration was comparatively easy, there were times when it was almost impossible to feel like I belonged.

My mother-in-law, Marci, and my sister-in-law Claire were amongst the instrumental people, helping me to feel like I belonged. For my first Christmas in the States, Marci made a stocking for me, with my name on it, we don’t use these in Germany. And for another Christmas, I received a big package from Grand Junction where Marci and Claire live. In it were Christmas ornaments. Lots of them, all of them unique, it was not a set. Every single ornament had attached a little note that explained why they chose this ornament for me. You see, it’s a Scott family tradition to buy one ornament for the children each year that represents their personality, likes and dislikes that year. And Marci and Claire made sure that I am a part of this family tradition. Talk about welcoming someone into belonging!

It is that kind of hospitality Jesus calls his disciples to. They are to welcome people into belonging, into God’s kingdom. And what kind of people, who all are the disciples called to welcome into belonging? Prophets, righteous persons, and little ones. “Little ones” here does not mean children, but rather people of diminished social status. People in crisis. Disappointed people. Powerless people. People that depend on other people. Even people low in faith. Prophets, righteous persons, and little ones. What a group. It’s a Triad, a group of three people. Not an altogether unfamiliar concept for Christians, really. Just this Triad is a bit off. After prophets, and righteous people, one would usually expect the third member to be on the same level when it comes to the importance, the value society views them with. Prophets and righteous persons, yeah, that fits, that’s a no brainer. But little ones? One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong. For the disciples then and for us now, this is quite an unexpected third member. Prophets, righteous persons, and sages. Or prophets, righteous persons, and saints. That sounds alright. To us.