I’ll never forget my first day in a PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church. I had moved back to New Jersey and was looking to find a new church. I looked online, but couldn’t find any PCA churches close to my home. So, I resorted to looking in the phone book (can you tell how long ago this was?) and lo and behold, I found that there was a church ten minutes from my house. So that first Sunday in September in 2003, I paid a visit to our daughter church in Montclair, NJ.
Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Many people introduced themselves to me. When one member found out I was looking for a job, she gave me her card and asked me to get in contact with her. Another member invited me to their small group barbecue the following Saturday. I had intended to visit several churches, but it was because of the friendliness of so many, that I left church that day saying, “I’ve found my home church.” It only took one visit.
I am so encouraged when I see the same thing happening at Grace Redeemer. We had a wonderful Breakfast in Bethlehem event this past Saturday. Many of our church members and attenders invited their friends. One woman’s friend remarked, “I’ve never been to your church but people were so friendly and welcoming and talked to me.” This is what God calls us to. Romans 15:7 (ESV) says, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
If we know Jesus as Savior there was a point where he welcomed us into his family. We were strangers alienated from Christ when he called us to himself and saved us. It’s at Christmas where the love and welcome of Christ is especially vivid, for we celebrate his birth, his coming to live among us to be our Savior. It’s when we realize how much he has loved and welcomed us that we extend this love and welcome to others.
Who in your life also needs to experience the welcome of Jesus? Is there someone that you can invite to church this holiday season so that we all can share in the blessing of extending Christ’s love and welcome to them? The Christmas season brings many new people through our doors. Even if you don’t invite someone, take a look around you for the next couple of Sundays and on Christmas Eve at church. If you see someone new, please join in making that person feel welcome. You may just be the person that God uses to help welcome this person into his family.
Karen Jacobsen serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry and Refuge 686 (adoption/foster care).