For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20
I had the opportunity to be a part of a webinar this week about Parish Hospitality and Church Re-entry. The goal was to offer suggestions to parishes all over the country about how to lovingly, joyfully and warmly welcome people back to church…whenever that will be…however that will be. I thought I’d share the first question from the interview. The question was about how we could help prepare for re-entry. I offer three things we can all do to help prepare. We may not be making the decisions but we sure play a role in the process.
The first step is Prayer. We need to pray for our Bishops, Priests and Parish Leadership…this is tough work. It will require obedience and trust. Those are a little tricky these days so it’s important to think about where to find the truth. In Wednesdays first reading there was dissension and dispute so they went to the Apostles for the truthful answers and counsel. That action from the Acts of the Apostles is so appropriate for us today. We count on our Bishops who are the Apostolic successors to make the decisions best for all of the Church family and they need our prayer and our support. We need to pray for them rather than second guess and heckle them. We also need to pray for our own obedience. If we can’t be obedient to requests for public safety how can we expect to be obedient in the big ways that will be necessary for heaven?
The second thing we need to do to prepare is adjust our Perspective. All of us are are coming from different places; for some it may be a place of fear, anger or isolation. This thing has affected all of deeply and each of us differently and we have to be so aware of that. As I was thinking about what re-entry might look like I couldn’t help but think of the first day of school and the kindergartners across the hall from my 6th grade room. Some come afraid, some are a little nervous, some aren’t really sure they’re ready to be there, some are excited and have been waiting their whole life for this day and can hardly contain their enthusiasm. With those new students, it’s our job as a school community to acknowledge them all, meet them where they are and offer the same warm, friendly welcome to each of them. It isn’t our job to get everyone on the same page, it’s our job to welcome them the way they walk through the door and make them feel safe, welcome and connected. Our duty as members of a Church family is much the same. We have to be patient and gentle with each other.
The third thing we need to do is Act WithThe Love of Jesus. There will be so many things…masks or no masks, those who think we’ve done too much and those who think we haven’t done enough. We are welcoming back the scrupulous and those with a relaxed attitude about it all. Every decision, every attitude, every new best practice needs to be steeped in the love of Jesus. How we say things matters greatly. It will be very different to say “For the greater good of God’s people we will be doing this” instead of “You may not enter if”. We have to remember what we’re coming back for…we’re coming back for JESUS! We’re coming back to worship in his house with joy and connection and hope. We have to make sure we remember what we’re getting ready to come back to!
I’m ready to go back…I’m ready to pray together and connect with church family and I hope this time of prayer and longing has made us a stronger, more compassionate, more joyful people and our return will be like a Wedding Feast!
A Seed To Plant: What have you missed most about public worship and how will you take the joy of the Lord with you when you go back?
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.