Monday, 9 March 2009
You're Welcome...i think.
It must have been within the first two weeks of me moving to bristol that i was invited to the Mysercoughs for lunch...and many sundays after that! My house mate, who at the time wasn't a christian, just thought it was amazing how much free food i got out of just going to church on a sunday. I never really realised how amazing this actually was until recently - all it did was make me feel welcome instead of unwelcome...and i think i really heavily underestimated how huge a deal that was.
Today we talked a lot about welcome...what it meant, what is was...how we would welcome people into our lives and our ministry...whatever that turns out to be. I remeber in Canada going to a youth conference with young people and hearing session after session about being the one who talks to the 'odd one out' at school because what should we care if it makes us look 'uncool' - you know; Jesus and the Lepar and all that. Really its an incredibly profound message for 14 yr olds...for anyone...but sitting with someone who is a loner in your school lunch break is not the same as welcoming them. Letting someone into your life is not the same as welcoming them. So what do we as christian really expect when we expect a welcome...an invite to sunday lunch? A coffee? Or just simple a handshake and 'welcome to our church!' As the 'C'hurch have we put maybe just too unrealistic expectations on ourselves leaving behind us a long line of dissapointed and dissilousined beings who never really got that welcome they expected?
or are we just giving up and admitting...were just too busy to welcome you - Or infact...your just too different to be welcomed - and this is what seems to us to be a huge reason for what some may feel is a lack of welcome at church.
Welcome can't be about us trying to hang out with those that are different from us because that is what Jesus would do - if it is all we are really saying is this:
" We are engaging with you because the Bible says so" - how wonderfully relational of us.
This is what leads to unrelevant christian questionnaires being asked to unwilling hungover students in the grounds of hundreds of universities... It is what leads to some 'alternative kid' feeling like a charity case because someone feels that they should be there with them because no one else is. And not that doing something because we know its the right thing to do isn't wrong its just that i honestly do not believe its enough.
Enough is being able to feel within yourself more than just self pity for a person...Enough means feeling compassion, feeling empathy with another human being. Enough is having our lives orgainsed enough so that when someone wants to see us they know its ok becuase were not too busy. Enough is having the patience to underdstand that someone so different from 'us' may come into our church, into our community and may not live with the same values, may change things, may get in our way, may annoy us and may even, God forbid, question us. Enough is knowing that they are certainly worth your time...well thats what we kinda think anyway...I guess we just think the welcome is a good place to start when thinking about community life and again, the difference between feeling welcomed and unwelcomed is a big deal.
And ultimately making someone feel sincerely welcome is the best way to make them feel like they belong as part of a community.
Today we also watched JD chase a Hare twice his size around a field for about half an hour...it amused him greatly.
(for cartoon sketch above check out Dave Walker...immediatly :) )