Russ and I have been trying to attend the Wednesday Lenten Services offered at the nearby Lutheran Church as our schedules permit.
This past Wednesday, he was out of town so I put on my big girl pants and went by myself.
Being long time church attenders and just knowing we humans are creatures of habit, it is always a bit dicey to choose a pew.
Some people find this irritating in the Church, but I don’t mind it. I understand.
We tend to gravitate to certain places to sit – whether it is the coffee shop, a favorite restaurant or the church.
I scanned the rows and decided to slip in to one that was semi full.
I moved down to leave room for any late comers, but as I was scooting the gentleman at the end of the group already seated turned and very kindly said to make sure I left room for one as his wife would be coming soon.
I left space and as I sat down, the couple in front of me both turned to look back and see who was now behind them.
Being self-conscious I asked if someone else usually sat there and they were so sweet and laughed in agreement that we don’t want to upset the apple cart in the church pews.
Then they introduced themselves by name to me and shook my hand. I told them my name and they made some small talk with me offering some information about their own lives. I did share that I belong to FCC and they tried to think who they knew that went there as well.
As we chatted, the wife of the gentleman next to me arrived and she caught on that I was a visitor so introduced herself and her husband. She also chatted a little with me.
People who really know me are not at all surprised by this since total strangers who I have not even made eye contact with are drawn to share their life story with me, but I do have a different point to make here.
When the service was over, they once again asked me to repeat my name and then said it was nice to have me attend and repeated their names for me.
No big deal, right?
But it was huge to me.
I was alone and missing my husband.
I felt vulnerable and unsure of myself.
And with just a simple conversation, I felt welcomed and included.
I added four names to people I know and some information about their lives and history in this community.
It made me realize how important it is for us to do the basics of greeting people and introducing ourselves.
Our church pastors and staff work hard to bring people to Christ, but it is also our job as ministers of the Gospel to reach out, literally one on one, and make an intentional effort to be welcoming and kind.
Sharing a little bit about who we are and making room for strangers to make a connection.
Whether it is in the context of a service at the church or out in the community, we are the extension of the hands and feet of Christ.
He took time to talk to people, to share Himself with others and to listen to what they wanted to share with Him.
I pray for God to help me be more outward focused at church and in life <3