Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Saying Hello

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.

1 comment:

Betty Dygart said...

Pastor E said, "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 someone's dark world."

It's so much easier to go up and welcome someone who is dressed well, may be accompanied by a spouse, or family, someone who looks and acts "just like us." But let that person be slightly untidy, loud, or seemingly confused and unable to follow the service, and we begin to look or move away.

When they grapple with their change purse, in order to put a few coins into the passing plate, we are not that eager to welcome them into the congregation. Now, if they had dropped a large denomination bill in the plate, maybe then...we would eagerly share the peace with them.

For the past couple of weeks, such a lady has been attending services. She is quite obviously mentally challenged, appears very confused, and doesn't seem to have a great carry-over of knowledge from the previous Sunday, in terms of following the service. Of course, that could be because she has attended different services, and there are differences in how things are done.

I greeted her week before last after the 8 a.m. service and introduced myself. She said she was looking for "her people" and walked off. I have no idea who "her people" are.

This past week she was at the 9:30 service and communion confused her, because she had gone to the rail before at the 8:00, and now we were doing stations. I felt sorry for her, but was eight rows back and entrenched in that row, so couldn't really do anything.

Is there a way we can address such situations? Could the ushers be trained to deal better with this?

Yes, I agree, we need to be mindful of those around us, ready to help them if they are in need or seem uncertain. We are all part of the Body of Christ.