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Today was a gorgeous fall day. I love this time of the year. After a great morning at church, hearing the pastor boldly challenge the congregation to understand that our relationship with the Lord is not meant to be self-absorbed and self-serving but about loving our neighbors and serving others.
After service, Jay and I discussed it further upon arriving at a local restaurant. This Italian eatery is a place I love for the food. The hostess was ready for us and the staff was also obviously ready for a larger group. They were anticipating an afternoon of serving others, with kindness, attentive service and great food. Of course, they’re paid well, and compensated further with tips.
The church I referred to earlier is also always ready for guests. Parking lot greeters, golf cart attendants with VIP treatment for guests, doors held open by welcoming hands, and the foyer filled with smiling faces. It’s a standard we love and love to see. I’ve wondered recently what it is that distinguishes particular churches in every community to draw a crowd while others struggle to maintain or survive. I’ve noticed “unique invitations in the mail, yard signs on church or neighbor lawns, and the promotion of pancake breakfasts.” But I personally believe it’s that genuine, caring, “love your neighbor” attitude that comes as we connect and invite the unchurched or de-churched, and when they pull onto the parking lot and enter the doors. You know if the genuineness exists, or it doesn’t. But if it doesn’t, it can be cultivated–just as the pastor challenged us today.
Matthew 5: 14-16 (The Message) “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept… I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.