CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

September 9, 2014

Welcoming the Stranger Into Your Church

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

WELCOMING THE STRANGER INTO YOUR CHURCH

NOTE: When I saw the September 8, 2014, WordPress prompt, Greetings-stranger, my first thought was welcoming strangers into the church. Was it  a coincidence—or a God-incidence—that the title of the September 8th Upper Room devotion, written by Hugh Lake of Georgia, was Welcome Stranger?Some of the content of the following was excerpted from this devotion.

The boxes of stuff were finally unpacked, freeing me to explore our new community. It had taken several months to unpack, during which I’d noticed a small café tucked behind the local dime store.

On a midweek midmorning I entered the cozy homelike café. I took a seat at a table for two. The steaming coffee hit the spot, and I settled in, reading the local newspaper left behind by an earlier customer while waiting for my order of scrambled eggs, rye toast, and sausage links.

I was absorbed in a local story when I was startled by a tap on my shoulder.

“What’s your name?” the tall, older woman asked.

“Carolyn,” I said. “Carolyn Holland.”

“I’m Anna. I’ve been looking for you,” she said. “I saw your name in the guest book at church last Sunday and hoped I’d see you somewhere this week. May I join you?”

“Certainly,” I said, welcoming the company.

“It was nice you visited my church,” she said. “Are you considering returning?”

“My husband and I are visiting different churches in the community. We’re not certain where we’ll end up.”

“It can be scary to walk into a new church, being a stranger. Tell me about your explorations.”

For some reason I felt comfortable enough with Anna to share my impressions of the church visits.

“I’ve been really disappointed. I’d hoped we would find an authentic church environment but it hasn’t happened. We visited several churches in our denomination. We visited one three times and not one person spoke to us. In the others we were greeted at the door and then ignored. It’s not that I expect we should be fawned over, but at least there should be some welcome extended to a visitor.”

“Sometimes those of us who’ve been part of a local church for years forget how scary it can be to walk in as a stranger. We may also forget the importance (more…)

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