Coco Calling No. 82 - That All Important ‘Welcome’
My owner is a very strange kind of human. He does all kinds of weird things, and his condition always gets worse as we approach Christmas time. Last month, he put out more than thirty light-up animals in the front garden! Fortunately, my blushes were spared because he couldn’t get hold of a light-up parrot. But instead, there’s still a large light-up flamingo out there!
Then, the other day, he suddenly appeared in the house with a church. Not a real one of course, but a ‘light-up’ church as part of his array of indoor Christmas decorations. When I first laid eyes on it, I thought “oh no!” Because unlit, it simply looked like a large chunk of worthless plastic. But after he plugged it in, and the lights came on, I had to agree that it looked rather nice. In fact, it looked bright and inviting.
And very begrudgingly, I have to admit that he’s probably ‘hit’ on something here, (even if he doesn’t realise it). Because the image that a real church projects to its surrounding community is so important. A large, dark, imposing building with narrow, dingy windows, will never encourage new humans to walk through its doors. And the welcome that everyone receives on the other side of those doors is just as important. It needs to be bright and uplifting. Warm and friendly. Relaxed and inclusive. For every church of God must welcome everyone, whoever they may be, if they walk in off the street with good intentions in their heart. And maybe some churches need to put up a banner outside to say just that. Something along the lines of: “Welcome! Come inside. Come and join the ‘Sinner’s Club.’ Paupers, parrots and politicians included!”
The Bible has quite a lot to say about this:
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
Sometimes, when someone walks in through the door of a church for the very first time, only God can see their full potential. But it’s the role of every church to welcome those folk, and to allow them to blossom according to God’s will. And that will always happen, so long as the church is something more than a large piece of worthless plastic………