Hospitality and welcome are frequent topics of discussion and focus for congregations like Mount Calvary. What is a visitor’s first impression when entering the atrium? The sanctuary? Does the bulletin assist visitors in navigating our worship? Are our members friendly and warm towards strangers and unfamiliar faces? Do our sermons and prayers reflect the hospitality and grace of Jesus? And, similarly, do our members experience warmth, welcome and gracious hospitality as strongly or stronger than they did years ago? When we go offsite to do mission projects, do we show the compassion, humility and neighborliness of Jesus? These are important questions that always call out something more and something better from all of us.
Hospitality and welcome are not just concerns for paid staff, but for all our members. I hope that whenever you gather here or represent Mount Calvary out in the community, you are considering the face you put forward to others. Do you make time for the stranger? Do you greet and encourage and invite others into those things that matter to you? Do you represent Jesus and his teachings about open tables, open arms and open communities that are sanctuaries of grace? These are important questions that always call out something more and something better from all of us.
How many neighbors and friends have you invited to come be a part of our fellowship and mission? I would like to encourage and raise the bar of expectation for all of us. I want you to commit to inviting and welcoming others to worship with us, come to a Bible or study class, participate in our youth or confirmation programs, or check out what we are about in mission and see if it fits them. Instead of “wondering” about that neighbor you haven’t seen at church for a while, call them. Ask them to join you at something or go for coffee. I also want you to be evangelists: tell the story of our outreach ministries: invite someone to join you at a packing event of Many Hands Many Meals; tell parents of preschoolers about the best Preschool in these western suburbs with our team of teachers who have a higher degree of licensure, training, and experience than any other and who have a passion for children; tell a neighbor about our Academy of Music and encourage youth and adults to sign up for lessons…it’s a program that other congregations locally and nationally are seeking to replicate.
Hospitality is just another form of generosity and care. It is grace in action. It is sharing what you value with another and inviting them into this place where the Holy Spirit inspires and stirs up. Ask, seek, and knock…on your neighbor’s door! You will be surprised how many wonder what took you so long.