I just returned from my annual retreat/reunion with a small group of seminary classmates. Each year, we gather to discuss one book we’ve read in common (more on that later) and share the things we’ve read/watched/done in the last year that have fueled our various ministries. And we cook for each other. And drink too much coffee. And — this is the most important part — we remember how good it is to be connected and to belong to one another. It’s been over a decade since we all first met, and I can still remember the first time we all sat down in the same room together, a much more nervous and wary bunch. We were prompted to talk about our biggest fears about the journey we were embarking on.
“What if,” I asked, “I only really have one sermon in me?” Everyone laughed — not a mocking laugh but that nervous laugh that’s almost a scream, the kind of laugh where you recognize your own fear in another’s. And in that laugh, I knew I’d found my people and I’d come to the right place at the right time.
It’s a blessing to find a place like that and know you’ve come home.
This Sunday, the topic is welcoming — not just how we say “hello” at the front door, but how we create an atmosphere of true welcome, where a stranger can feel like they’ve come home.
With this in mind, I have a little thought assignment for you all. Think back to the first time you walked in the doors of this church (wherever it may have been located at the time). How did you know you arrived at the right place? Who made you feel welcome and comfortable, and how did they do it? How might you pass that on to the next newcomer?
Join me on Sunday at 10:30 for more on this subject. Nylea leads our ever-growing choir in a traditional spiritual, a Spanish hymn, and a song from our own Bonnie Kellogg.