by Pastor Wayne Puls on November 30, 2023

What’s one of the most important things you can do every week, when you come to church? The list is long, and no doubt varies from person to person. We think of answers such as pray, confess, respond to God’s Word, commune, greet friends, be humble before God, receive forgiveness, serve as a volunteer, reflect on life situations, be convicted of sin, and much more. A great many very important things go on in church every week!

Here’s another answer for you to consider today. One of the most important things you can do in church, week after week, I think, is welcoming the stranger. Our church is blessed with guests and visitors every single week, at all three worship services. Taking a few minutes to greet those whom you don’t know can make a tremendous difference in the worship experience of a newcomer. Warm smiles, friendly greetings, and brief casual conversation is all that’s needed. Making every visitor and guest feel noticed and welcomed at Hope is tremendously important. Our simple words and actions go a long way in helping a person determine whether or not to return for another worship service.

At our New Member Breakfast last month, I encouraged the folks who were joining Hope Lutheran Church to find ways to get involved, and to participate in the congregation’s ministry in ways that suit them. But I invited all of them to make  welcoming the stranger a part of their weekly routine at church. Even if they’re brand-new members of Hope, they can join in this important task. So can you! As Christ’s warm, embracing love welcomes you every time you enter the sanctuary, join in sharing that love freely with everyone –- and especially the stranger.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35)

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11)

Yours in Christ,

 Pastor Wayne Puls

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