You must be lost, because heaven is a long way from here.
Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re the only “10” I see!
OK, so maybe we don’t need to use cheesy pick-up lines to let people know we like them. But when we come to church, we’re on God’s turf. It’s our job as God’s people (and we are God’s people, aren’t we?) to make sure God’s welcome is shared with everyone. We want each visitor to know without a doubt they are surrounded by people who will care about them, welcome them, and are ready to become new friends.
Worship is not quite like anything else we experience in life these days. When you go out to a restaurant, you normally don’t peer into the booths on either side of you to introduce yourselves to other diners. At a movie, you probably keep to your family and friends and rarely strike up conversations with other moviegoers. These are the usual daily public experiences where we go about our business and do our own thing. But worship isn’t about doing our own thing — it’s about doing God’s.
In worship we experience and share the gifts of God here on earth. Jesus wants so much for us all to know him, he came into this world and spent a lifetime loving people God’s way. He was so desperate that we all would know him, he was always reaching for a new image to explain it: I am the gate, he said, the door, the light; the way, the truth, and the life; the Good Shepherd, the vine and the bread… I am the resurrection and the life. He said it in so many different ways because there are so very many ways to share Jesus. A smile, a kind word, a moment learning a stranger’s name — these all can mean a lot to someone who is seeking God in their life.
So keep your eye out for when a new person or family enters the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. If they sit near you, don’t look away and keep talking to your friend in the seat in front of you — take a moment to introduce yourself and say, “Good morning, glad you’re here!” When you share the peace, scan the room for that new person standing all alone, silently watching everyone else around them greeting just their friends. Then make your way toward them through the crowd, on a mission from God to make a new friend.
Everyone we see Sunday morning is beautiful — all perfect 10’s in the eyes of God, all needing a warm, safe place to rest and hear the Good Shepherd’s voice. If we take them as they come and embrace them with the love of Christ, not only do we give joy to God, we make new friends.