When God allows His people to gather collectively for worship, it is a powerful moment. Indeed, we are promised that our Lord is present where “two or three” are together in His name. This means that there is a special manifestation of His presence in and among us! Furthermore, such a gathering allows us to “rub souls” with one another. Our spirits connect as His Spirit hovers over us and brings us together. And for just a few moments each week, we have an opportunity to extend a gracious welcome to those around us. So, in particular, we need to make the most of that effort.
This week, I read some comments by Edward T. Welch that helped me think through my practice of extending hospitality to those around me. Welch writes:
Greetings, of course, take time. This means our greeting list might be short, because we have a finite amount of time when the church is gathered . . . we cannot greet everyone. So here is how we prioritize:
• The visitor (what Scripture calls the ‘foreigner’ or ‘alien’) comes first.
• The visitor who returns comes next.
• The less popular, the introverts, the marginalized, or those sitting alone come next.
• Then come the children. Jesus singles them out as examples of the marginalized.
• ‘Hi, ________” is offered to as many people as possible.
Good friends are interspersed through these greetings, but they are left for later if time is short. A reasonable application of Scripture is to greet one person we don’t know or don’t know very well every time we gather with others in the body of Christ.
No doubt, we want to make everyone feel welcomed when they walk on our campus, but these simple suggestions help us to be more intentional. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but lately God has blessed us with a lot of new faces in our services. Praise Him for that! But also, be intentional about connecting with these new folks as they worship with us!
And as always, I thank you for your graciousness and your generosity. I love the Temple family! There is not another like you! You are “real” folks who daily demonstrate your love toward one another. What a bond of love! And what’s more, you consistently give to fulfill the Lord’s work in our community and beyond. Just this past Friday night, you helped us raise approximately $30,000 for mission trips, etc. Thank you for all you do to advance the Kingdom of God. And remember, you are loved not for what you do, but rather for who you are! See you Sunday!