Today’s gospel reflects a decision. To accept God’s calling and risk rejection from society, or to hear what God asks of us and to say no.

“Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”

Mary made the decision to possibly sacrifice her perceived innocence, her future marriage, and her womb with more certainty than I could ever imagine. She said yes to becoming the mother of Jesus even though it meant that she would be an outcast.

Lydia’s House is a prime example of the hospitality of taking in (and thus becoming) society’s outcasts. Many of us here have felt left out in many ways, whether because of our gender, sexual orientation, or the color of our skin. Like Mary, Lydia’s House says yes to the beautiful gift that is each community member, even though it means we are considered separate. We try not to pursue the consumerism, violence, and greed of the masses, which makes us weird. But the beauty of community is that within the house and our incredible support system, we have a place where we don’t feel quite so different. Lydia’s House consists of all of us here in this room, which means we all give and receive in different ways. What I love about the community is that it depends on everyone saying “yes” to receiving the blessings others have to share.

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Now I can’t speak for all of us, so I asked some of these lovely people about the ways they see hospitality at Lydia’s House. Making and eating dinner, participating in work days, lending a listening ear, donating tickets for fun activities, visiting each other in the hospital, and walking alongside each other in times of crisis: these are the ways we accept one another.

The way that Lydia’s House offers hospitality, outside of traditional limitations, emulates what Christ did. What he offered to the outcasts was not of this world but of the Kingdom of God. And it was exactly what they needed. When the sick were healed by Christ, it was spit, mud, and their own faith which healed them, rather than the elitist, exclusive rituals of the temples. Lydia’s House can’t offer mansions and yachts to each guest and volunteer, but what good would that do anyway? We all need the kind of healing that doesn’t come from the material. Accompaniment, support, and love are more along the lines of what Christ offered, and what I believe he asks of us.

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Most importantly, Christ so dearly loved the outcasts (the lepers, prostitutes, and of course his own mother) that he became one. That is true hospitality; not just accepting those who are considered different, but giving up everything of this world to be considered different too. The way that the outcasts are treated impacts us all. To paraphrase Lilla Watson, only when we recognize that our ‘liberation is bound up in each other’s’, can we make real change for all. This is why I am so grateful for Lydia’s House and all of us here who give up certain privileges to be a part of the Body of Christ. You recognize that the oppressors need freeing just as much as the oppressed (Desmond Tutu). Thank you for saying yes to each other, and to me, through hospitality, and giving me the strength to say yes to God’s calling to be an outcast.

Reflection written by Rachel, Lydia’s House Associate Volunteer