Invitations to visit houses have conditions based on regional attitudes. My wife, Peggy, was brought up in rural Minnesota. She was taught it was impolite to go to someone’s house unless they first offered a formal invitation.
In the neighborhood of my youth in Ohio, if you wanted to go to someone’s house you called up and asked. Or, you went over and knocked on the door. They would either say, yes or no. So I grew accustomed to asking people. In many parts of the Midwest, this would be considered rude.
We both got caught off guard in New York. People would say to us, “You should come over sometime.” Where we grew up this was a polite way of saying, “I enjoyed our conversation.” It carried no expectation of action. However, we learned when someone in New York said this, they meant it. They really expected us to come over.
If a guest were to come to your house, what would be the conditions to receive them?
In this morning’s reading, Jesus sends out believers to be guests in strange houses. He tells them whenever they enter a house grant them peace. Then, “If anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.” It reveals the reciprocal relationship of peace.
On one hand, I look within myself as a pastor and ask, do I bring peace to your house? Those who are sent out are not charged to bring Jesus. Jesus is already there living among them. They are told to bring nothing but peace.
On the other hand, peace needs to be received to remain. Those of you who are longing for peace, do you receive it? Or, do you let cultural conditions control whether peace will remain? It might sound harsh, but it is true.
Lord, grant us the strength to bring your peace to strangers and open our hearts to receive it as well. For when your peace remains, life is transformed. (Lk 10: 1-9)