One of the things I continue to think about is how we greet people at the church. One of the stats that I am reminded of quite often is that guests to a church will decide if they are returning to the church within 15 minutes of closing their car door. So much of this has to do with how they are welcomed at the church - are they greeted as a friend or are they left to find things on their own and treated like a stranger.
It doesn't take much to make someone feel welcomed - a little hello, a question like "Can I help you find the worship space?" or even an invitation to join that person in worship to help with the service. These are little things, but the problem is that many of us don't want to move out of our comfort zones and talk with people we haven't met before.
As many of you know, I was not a born and bred Lutheran. I was evangelized into the faith. A big part of my faith jounrey ahd to do with a little lady who greeted me when I went to church, sat with me to show me how they did worship at that church, and encouraged me to meet others at the coffee hour. It was because of her willingness to spend time with me, and make me feel comfortable, that I returned to that church and eventually became a pastor.
I believe that God brings people into our lives for different reasons. Sometimes it is to help us grow in our lives of faith, other times it is to show God's love in new ways. But we are called to welcome the guest in our midst and show everyone the love that God has for us. This is what it means to be part of the Body. To be welcoming, loving, and grace-filled to others.
So my prayers today focus on how we can show compassion and love to others, and that we may find ways to be little lights in someones dark world.