The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Notice us home

Welcome all who enter church

Hi! We're here. We've come to worship. We're new ... or maybe we just haven't been here for a while. We look a little reserved. That's because we're a bit cautious, maybe even scared.

You see, we are looking for something — a home.

This home is currently your home, or at least it feels like your home. We aren't sure we belong here. We're not even sure we are wanted here.

But ... this is the thing. If you notice us, we may light up — sort of like your dog does when you call her name. Your noticing awakens us. It brings us to life and into existence in this home.

If you pretend to not notice us — because let's be frank, you do know we are here — then we are faceless. And the more you don't notice us, the more we want to leave because who wants to be a living non-existent? We squirm and count the minutes until we are "sent" or, in our case, "sent away."

And really, waiting until we share the peace together is way too late to notice us. We've already been around for at least 20 minutes, if not longer. If all of a sudden you smile and shake our hands, we think to ourselves, "What was that?"

So notice us. Notice us, the strangers in your midst.

Acknowledge us and in doing so welcome us.

Welcome us as fellow children of God who are holy in God's eyes and therefore holy in yours.

Greet us even if in the back of your mind you think we are members who haven't been around for a while.

Be bold, courageous and welcoming, and by doing so give us face, voice and home.

Jesus noticed all sorts of people, especially people who were culturally invisible. Jesus noticed people who were begging, collecting taxes, of different ethnic or religious groups, or suffering from disease or mental illness. Jesus noticed these people and in doing so reminded them of life itself — theirs and of their eternally existent home with God.

Here's a challenge. Notice us next Sunday. Let your noticing gather us in and welcome us home. Gather us as Jesus gathered the invisibles of his time.

And then when we are sent back out into the world, we will be gone only temporarily — until next week.


Robert Buntrock

Robert Buntrock

Posted at 2:27 pm (U.S. Eastern) 1/29/2012

I'm sure that you'd be welcome in our church in Bangor, Maine.  We're small with a sparse population of Lutherans within driving range so our membership is probably only a bare majority of life-long Lutherans.  We try to be welcoming to all (we do get new faces regulary) and if we don't manage to get to you to greet you by the Passing of the Peace, you will strongly encouraged to join us in our coffee hour between services.  We think we do a good job but we can always do better.  This Sunday was RIC Sunday so hopefully we can be even more welcoming, not only in practice, but "officially".

We hope you've found a welcoming church home.

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All are welcome