Faith and Works: Heavenly Wisdom Breeds Earthly Hospitality

Sunday’s Scripture ~ James 3:13-18

This Sunday Reeves UMC welcomes Michael Slaymaker, President of Orlando Youth Alliance, as our guest speaker. The Orlando Youth Alliance is a peer-to-peer mentoring and support group whose mission is to provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth in Central Florida.

Last Fall the idea for Be The Change 5K was birthed by Lisa – Reeves’ Youth Director – and myself after months of discernment and prayer. In our discernment God led us in a desire to not only support Reeves with the proceeds of BTC5K, but also to support a local agency with BTC5K proceeds so the community surrounding the church – and the community in which the church participates – can be the change they want to see in the world. Lisa had a history of volunteering with OYA and recommended them as a beneficiary of BTC5K proceeds. In November Lisa and I met with Michael to discuss the possibility of a partnership between OYA and Reeves – to receive a portion of the funds from the 5K and to invite OYA to utilize our campus as the site for their weekly gatherings. The invitation was extended and Lisa and I entrusted it to God to do what God does.

Michael contacted us in late January; the OYA Board of Directors were interested in seeing the space Reeves had to offer the group. I am so happy to say that OYA moved their weekly gatherings to youth room at Reeves back in February. Before this time this group of vibrant, passionate, inquisitive, discerning, and fear-conquering young adults met in temporary spaces around Orlando. They didn’t have a space to call their own. They have truly blossomed in this space and cherish the security of calling this space their OYA home.

Lisa and I felt called to extend this earthly hospitality to OYA after much time spent in prayer and discernment, in which God imparted what I believe is heavenly wisdom. Our Scripture lesson for this week tells us that wisdom is from above and that it is pure. And when wisdom from above reigns down it cleanses the greatest vices of the world – jealousy and selfishness. This refers to not just jealousy and selfishness at the individual level, but also at the corporate level – the congregational level – the church level.

When the church opens its doors and invites our brothers, sisters, neighbors in to find sanctuary and experience hospitality – however that may look for them – we embody that we have received, are attuned to, and responding to God’s heavenly wisdom. From that pure wisdom flows peace, gentleness, and a willingness to yield to the desires of others – not to compromise our witness or integrity of faith – but to remain vulnerable and aware of the needs of our neighbors so as one people we can promote healing.

It’s true – Reeves is providing hospitality to OYA, but we are not simply givers and they receivers. We are mutually giving and receiving as OYA’s weekly presence on our campus helps Reeves live into our mission of intentional inclusivity and hospitality with the LGBTQ community. God’s wisdom is reigning in the mission and service of these two groups – individually – corporately – congregationally.

I hope you join us in worship on July 28 to hear Michael share more about the partnership between Reeves and OYA. You will be enriched, encouraged, and blessed by his sharing.

Prayer: “Called by worship to your service, forth in your dear name we go to the child, the youth, the aged, love in living deeds to show; hope and health, good will and comfort, counsel, aid, and peace we give, that your servants, Lord, in freedom may your mercy know, and live.”* Amen.

*”Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 581.

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