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  • Rev. Carrie Cesar

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

Jesus is always urging us to enter into abundant life, showing us over and over again that a life of overflowing joy comes only in seeing everyone around us as God’s beloved children deserving our care, attention, and fellowship. When we see those around us as gifts of God and experience the blessing of sharing what we have with others, then we see close-up the abyss that Jesus tells us about in Luke 16:19-31, and fill it with the powerful love of God. Father Abraham protects his beloved Lazarus in his embrace, and sees no hope for the rich man’s blind faith and empty heart still trying to boss the beggar around even after death. The rich man utterly fails to see Lazarus, just like many of us today who have a “Lazarus” that we refuse to see. This parable is a clear and simple example of what it really means if we do or do not live a life of good deeds, and what the consequences really are! This past week I read a mission statement that shows how one of our world’s wealthiest families seems to have learned the idea behind this gospel lesson. Just look at what they have incorporated into their beliefs. The statement says: “Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives." It focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. Oh, what a different story it would be, if Lazarus could have been sitting on Bill and Melinda’s front door step! Why are we so slow to learn that we are all woven together in the reign of God and we all play a part in making God’s creation good? Some have everything they need and more at their disposal; while others have nothing and are suffering far more than they can stand. And we can lend a hand, or we can look the other way-- There’s a reason generous people are happier than stingy ones! God created us to be in relationship with those around us, and we experience the fullness of the life God intends and offers only when we embrace the people God has set in our path. Don’t ignore the “Lazaruses” in your life; learn how you can embrace them! Jesus teaches us that abundant life only happens in community, when we embrace one another with God’s love! Before you can have compassion for people, you have to see them, acknowledge their presence, needs, gifts and above all their status as children of God worthy of respect and dignity. The "Guest House" ministry is one way to embrace the ones we are called to help. Please join us in this embrace.

  • Gary White

The title of our blog, "Faith and Works," is taken from a passage in the Epistle of James where Christians are challenged to exercise their faith through good works carried out in the social sphere. "What good is it," the apostle asks, "if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead." (James 2:14-17)

Far be it from me to question something set down in an epistle by an apostle, but in my thinking, a claim of Christian faith that doesn't result in good works is not "dead." It was never really alive. Faith without works is impossible.

When we look back at the movements that ended slavery in the United States, apartheid in South Africa, and the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, we celebrate the role that Christians played in those important social advances. But at the time such revolutionary upheavals are taking place, the issues at hand can seem more complex, less clear cut than they are in hindsight. In real time, people of faith can be conflicted. There were churches that actually supported American slavery and South African apartheid, Christians who participated in the Rwandan genocide, and church leaders who were deeply complicit with Nazism.

Among the challenges to American society today is the issue of asylum seekers. The Christians of our church community have a blessed opportunity to live out our values by serving "the least of these." And as revolutionary challenges go, this one's a no-brainer. If the people of our church, our friends and neighbors down the block and down the hill and wherever our wonderful digital tools can reach, will dig in for that little bit of extra love, extra prayer, extra volunteer time, and maybe a dollar or two to help care for our seekers, The Guest House can do a work that will bring a great big smile to the face of old Brother James.

  • Rev. Carrie Cesar

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

One afternoon when my husband was briefing me on his conversation with a sixteen-year-old immigrant boy, Alfredo burst into tears as he said aloud, for the first time, that the youngster he'd been counseling had confided that he'd lived for many weeks in a cage. He'd been locked in a room with many other boys, all of them in cages. It is one thing to try and imagine this, but when you are actually told by an innocent child that he'd been subjected to something like this, it is very hard to bear. Our chosen task of walking alongside the immigrant community is one that should bring us all a sense of pride, knowing that God is with us, helping us to recognize the truth and to stand up for justice. God is always about welcoming the foreigners and strangers. This important act is even a sign of our faithfulness to God, obeying God's command to take care of the widows, orphans and strangers. There is much work to be done, but the inspiration to accomplish it can be as simple as listening to a struggling soul searching for help. I have never been one to be publicly protesting or standing in a picket line. But I know the beauty in crying together with mothers and children who need so desperately to know that the love of God exists; and that there is joy after the pain and hurt.

Hebrews 13:2 King James Version (KJV):

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

THE GUEST HOUSE as MISSION

Posts on WORKS by Gary White

THE GUEST HOUSE as MINISTRY

Posts on FAITH by Rev. Carrie Cesar

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            "Be not forgetful

     to entertain strangers, 

       for thereby some                     have entertained

       angels unawares."

                          Hebrews 13:2

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