This sermon title, thanks to Norah Jones, was in my head all week long. The Idea of Coming (and going) and Staying was woven throughout the lectionary passages of this Sunday's worship.
Psalm 67, John 14:23-29, Acts 16:9-15
In the Psalm, the people ask God to come and stay with them: they ask for God's grace, blessing, face to shine upon them, and for salvation. The people should praise God. We are at our best when God is invited to come and stay in our lives.
In the Gospel, there is a profound image that God and his Son will come and make their home in all those who follow and obey the works of God. As will the Holy Spirit, the advocate or counselor, who will come to guide, teach and help us remember the word of God.
In the gospel, peace is also invited to come and stay with us. "My peace I leave with you, I do not give to you as the world gives". Jesus goes back to stay with his Father, so that we can go with him, and stay with God. "And we shall dwell with God."
The Acts passage also speaks of coming and staying. Paul dreams of a Man from Macedonia, who begs Paul to come and help. Paul's response to this dream is to go and stay. Upon arriving at his destination, Paul and travelers go down to the River, where people of faith without a synogogue would gather to pray. These believers come to the river to meet God.
Lydia is one of those believers. God's message comes to her heart. Lydia then extends hospitality to Paul and his group. What does she say? Come and stay with me.
Today, coming and staying together (whether we refer to our relationship with God, or to our neighborly love, or to our congregational life) is about relationship and hospitality. The relationships connected to God invite us to "come". The Hospitality that shines forth from God's invitation say to others, "Stay".