Ever been the new kid? The new employee? The new member of the family? Where do you sit at lunch? Are the clothes you’re wearing right for this crowd? Can I be myself “for real” with these people? For the most part we’ve all experienced these emotions in once setting or another, but I feel they happen with the most frequency – in our churches.
Right there, in the pew behind you there is a family that has to be visiting. They’re dressed a little too nice for this church. They are actually reading their bulletins, and why are they being so quite during the prelude?
Did you see the young couple come in quickly during the gathering music before worship started? They found a seat near the front because everything was taken in the rear of the Fellowship Center. The band started playing the first song and They’re lifting their hands as they sing! We don’t do that!
“Open up the doors and let the music play, Let the streets resound with singing…”
Sometimes our churches can be the scariest places to walk into for a new person. There are always funny things that we intrinsically know happens as a member of that community. I’ll never forget going to church with a friend and embarrassing her. I actually sang the hymns! “We don’t really sing out loud,” she later told me.
I have had friends visit churches and been asked to move, they were in someone’s seat.
Really, that happened.
The banquet has been prepared and a place has been reserved for all of us. Christ suffered here on Earth for us all. So why is it we tend to want only those who look and sound like us, sitting next to us during worship? We all probably feel a certain amount of comfort in the familiar; be that familiar surroundings, people, or other things like food or music. But the Love of Christ has been offered to us all. And we are called to be a servant for all people, not just those who are the easiest or ones we would prefer. Hello Jonah!
Am I saying leave your house to live with the least of these? No, unless you are called to do so. But the least we could do is offer a kind smile, warm hug or handshake, and invite others to sit with you and be a part of worship. And just maybe, create a welcoming environment that will make a visitor to your church congregation thing, “Maybe this whole church thing is ok.”
“23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love is with all of you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 16:23-24