I‘m Glad You’re Here – Week of August 21, 2023
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May all the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
We were going to dinner with friends several years ago and decided to try a restaurant none of us had been to before. It had a quaint look and touted a great fish fry. As we opened the front door, we entered the main part of the restaurant. Almost every seat was full. Slowly the room became almost silent with a significant number of individuals turning to take in our group. The look on their faces seemed to clearly say, “You’re not from around here.” They were correct. We felt more than a little awkward. We haven’t been back.
Do you ever wonder what it’s like to visit your church? “We’re a really friendly congregation,” you might say. What does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that you have someone to talk to and catch up with as you wait for the service to begin? Does it mean that there is a buzz of conversation in the entryway or even in the sanctuary before the service? Does that define “friendly?” Do you notice a new face and when you do, do your fellow members instinctively turn to greet them? Or do you note them and then continue on with your conversation, intending to introduce yourself only to realize you missed the opportunity. You hope someone else greeted them.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us.” Oh my! God has done this in ways that are hard to count! We are blessed first with his grace and forgiveness. That alone is more than we deserve and yet he also overwhelms us with earthly blessings. That’s something to share, isn’t it?
And there’s that visitor. Do they know about God’s grace? Are they in need of a reminder of God’s mercy and the Savior who loves them dearly? Are they here for the first time or for the first time in a long time? How can I help them feel comfortable and welcome so that they come again and again to hear the message of God’s grace?
“May all the peoples praise you, God.” God is so clear all over the Bible—with all his heart he wants all people to know him, believe in him, worship him. He wants everyone everywhere to be a part of his family, of your family of fellow children of God. And he uses you and me to tell people just that. It’s not all up to you or me. The Holy Spirit works through each of us as we care about the individuals we know and meet and as we share with them our joy, our peace, our confidence in our gracious and loving Savior.
The next time you are in worship take a look around. Who could use your kindness, your welcome? Who could use a friendly face that simply says, “I’m glad you’re here. Let me show you around, introduce you to some of my friends, and listen with you as we learn together about our Savior, Jesus.” And then we pray, “May all the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!”
Dear Heavenly Father, open my heart and my eyes to see those who need a warm welcome in my church. Help me to see each person as someone for whom Jesus went to the cross. Then bless my words as I tell about you and your gift of grace. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen
A Hymn to Consider:
The following hymn can be used as a prayer asking God to bless our efforts to share God’s message of grace.
Christian Worship ’21 768 Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace