May 28, 2017
It's been too long since I've worshipped at my home church. Three Sundays in Cuba followed by a Sunday preaching for a pastor friend; walking in the front door at Park this morning, I felt almost like a stranger until I was warmly greeted by at least a half dozen people inside of ten minutes. After worship and just before Sunday School, I was talking with a friend when I spotted a couple I hadn't seen before. I excused myself, went over and greeted them. She had been here a couple times, invited by a member, but it was her boyfriend's first time. He was understandably and visibly nervous, not knowing what to expect. We chatted for a few minutes when I invited pastor Joe over to meet them. He had beat me to it, having greeted them earlier. My friend Harry came up and introduced himself.
The woman talked about experiences at other churches that apparently were somewhat less than helpful, then spoke of how good it was to be at Park. It's hard not to brag. We have worked for years to develop a congregation sensitive to the presence and needs of visitors, many of whom have had bad religious experiences and feel like they're entering a foreign world. Today I got to experience both sides, the visitor and the greeter. And I am thankful to belong to a congregation where even strangers can feel at home. Psalm 133 says, "How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." How good? Very good, indeed!