Posts Tagged ‘welcome’

Advent Week 3: Welcome Mat

He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. (John 1:8)

A member of our church shared a story with me that I’ll never forget. She said that as Advent began this year, she and her family were feeling a little blah about the upcoming season. Same old, same old, and no “Christmas spirit,” she said. But, according to her, when she saw my daughter staring wide-mouthed at the Chrismon tree in the sanctuary, the spirit came back like a rushing wind. (Naturally, I teared up as she told me this!)

From the sanctuary Chrismon tree (Chrismon = a tree decorated with symbols of Christ)

The uninspired, uninterested feeling she described is nothing new. It has happened to many of us. Seasons come and go, with their accompanying church and family activities, and after a while the feeling just isn’t the same. We need something to give us new purpose and meaning.

I had my own moment of renewal and re-commitment this Advent as well. And mine was … evangelism.

Yes, evangelism! That word that befuddles and terrifies believers has become the “Christmas spirit” word for me.

Let me give you a little background on how I got so inspired. Most days, I’m actually a very poor evangelist, for a few reasons. None of these are legitimate, but they are real.

  • I want to be a friendly pastor and not a pushy one.
  • I don’t get out much beyond the church walls, church activities, and my college group.
  • And sometimes I just forget. Sometimes church is just a job for me, and that’s a terrible way to be a pastor. I think my colleagues and I fall into that rut from time to time, which is sad.

But evangelism is central to being a follower of Jesus! Part of our call as Christians is to get beyond ourselves, and lay out the welcome mat for someone else– to testify to the light, if you will. We are strengthened in faith as we tell others the Good News.

The call nudged at me after I read my seminary classmate Jeff McDonald’s article on why churches should work hard on bringing those holiday visitors into the fold. His argument made perfect sense to me: if people are already showing up, why not give them what they are looking for plus more? I shook my head and smiled as I read. We are so busy during Advent that we fail to see the real “reason for the season”: the face of Christ, showing up as a guest in our houses of worship.

So I invited some people to come to church! And they responded well! It almost bowled me over.

Jesus has laid out the welcome mat for you and me all over again. How will we respond?

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Advent 2: you people shape up!

During last Sunday’s sermon I mentioned that Christians have a really bad reputation for being judgmental. Others simply don’t view us and our lovely church buildings as welcoming. It seems that we are good at telling others to shape up when we are in pretty bad shape ourselves.

In some ways the Advent/Christmas season is a reprieve from our reputation. This time of year is homey and cozy and pretty — like a big bowl of macaroni and cheese to share with the world. (Sure, mac & cheese can be pretty!)

So I took a personal challenge from the Epistle reading for 12/4, even though I didn’t use it in the sermon. In this passage, Peter encourages the people to remain faithful, “leading lives of holiness and godliness”. (2 Peter 3:11)

What I read here was a challenge to worry less about others, and to focus more on how I could allow Christ to work in me. No one needs a break from spending time with an authentic, faithful, and humble person. That “at home” feeling is real at any time of year when one is at home in the Spirit.

May all feel welcome in God’s house and among God’s people, both in Advent and beyond.