We all know, that during the Christmas season, church pews tend to be a little bit fuller than average. Are our churches prepared to give those extra people a warm welcome? I think back to the aftermath of 9/11 when church attendance swelled, as people searched out a higher power to find comfort, security, and hope. How many of those visitors still remain in our church today? Sometimes hospitality gets lost because we only have a short time to catch up with our friends at church.
This Christmas season I pray that our eyes are opened to the visitors to our congregations. We should make a purposeful effort to seek out those people and chat with them, and invite them to church activities, and even outside of church get-togethers.
In the next webcast I talk to Tom Salsgiver about a program called "Come Home for Christmas" that encourages churches to think about ways that they can be open and welcoming to visitors. It asks the congregation to put up signs that might be helpful to guests. It also suggests leaving end seats available for easy access. The main theme is to make the church accomodating to visitors, and begin to build a meaningful relationship with them. Building meaningful relationships is very important. We hear on the news that so often people end their lives because they don't feel that anyone cares about them.
I'd like to share a short story: There was a little boy that was afraid of the dark and kept calling his mother to comfort him. "Don't worry son. God is with you, there is no reason to be frightened." "I know," the little boy said, "but I'd like a God with some skin on!" On Christmas we celebrate when Jesus came to earth so that we could have a God with skin on. But now that he has ascended into heaven, we are called to be the body of Christ. We must reach out to visitors this Christmas, and be ready to be a vessel for God to reach out to them "with some skin on."