Recently, I attended a worship service in Los Angeles, California. Actually, I “attempted to attend.” As I arrived, I saw a line, which started at the front door, that had wrapped around the building. I hadn’t seen anticipation like this for a Sunday morning worship service in a long time, maybe ever. I arrived 20 minutes prior to the start of the service, and after having stood in a stationary line for 15 minutes I was greeted with an apologetic explanation, “Thank you so much for your desire to worship with us this morning, we are encouraged by your willingness to stand in line. However, we are at capacity. Since there are so many of you that will not be able to attend we are going to open a third service at 1:30 if you are willing to wait.”
It’s worth talking about the people who arrived 30 minutes prior to the start time and are willing to wait in a line to worship. It’s also worth talking about a staff that is flexible, considerate, innovative and accommodating to all kinds of people young and old. Both of these storylines captivated me. However, what I witnessed during the third service quickly became the reason for writing this blog – hospitality and hunger.
Hospitality horizontally – with and for people – represented a small glimpse of the vertical hospitality – hungry hearts to give and receive with God.
1. The volunteers and attendees were equally hospitable to one another. Both made sacrifices to that point. Volunteers served four hours beyond what was “expected” and attendees waited an additional two hours to worship in a – standing room only – packed room. Hospitality one to another was nothing less than Christ-like others minded beauty – Philippians 2:1-11. No one was thinking about themselves.
2. The 300 some people who packed the worship space demonstrated hunger – I’m using hunger as a synonym for “heart, mind, soul and strength” – Deuteronomy 6:5, Luke 10:27 – love for God. Willingness to wait outside for minutes which turned into hours was a small glimpse of what people were willing to “give” in worship once inside. It’s worth mentioning that the Lead Pastor wasn’t even in attendance this day, so the excitement wasn’t to laugh or be wowed by him. I witnessed people who were excited to worship Jesus because they were already wowed by Him. People gave all of their heart, mind, soul and strength in worship. I can truly say this room was filled with more passion than I’ve ever experienced at any sporting event I’ve ever seen and that’s saying a lot.
Hospitality and hunger like this doesn’t just happen, it is a result of preparation.
Stirring questions to consider:
How are you preparing to be hospitable to others this Sunday? This may look like, getting to worship early, giving up your seat or being ready to give rather than coming to receive.
How are you preparing to be hospitable and hungry, responding with your heart, mind, soul and strength to God this Sunday?
-By Chris Armfield, Lead Pastor of CITYLIGHTS