Many of us have been in church our whole life long. Every now and then, however, a guest appears in our midst that perhaps does not know the correct version of the Apostle’s Creed by heart or the Lord’s Prayer in the version that forgives trespasses rather than debts. Maybe they fall asleep in church because they live in the shelter and are not fortunate enough to have a bed. Regardless, the church of Jesus Christ is open to all people who need to get connected with God. THIS IS OUR CHURCH’S PRIMARY TASK AND OUR REASON FOR EXISTENCE. I remember once when I was a stranger and some kindly folks welcomed me into the heart of Jesus’ church.
In the middle of June 1979, the same week that Cassie was born, I preached my first sermon in my first church where I was the pastor “totally in charge.” When I arrived, my nuclear family lived in California, I was fresh out of seminary, and I had a beard. I do not need to tell you that these are meager pastoral credentials in rural Texas—especially Navarro County!
But the people were kind to me and helped me learn to be a pastor. I had no claim on them, but they took me and raised me as their own. In fact, they were so gracious to me that I became somewhat suspicious in a curious kind of way. One morning before worship, I cornered three ladies in the church kitchen and asked them, “Why have you and the church gone so far out of your way to make me comfortable and feel so accepted here?” And their answer was simple as it was direct: “Because you are one of us.”
This September, I ask all of us to be on the lookout for people who need the church. I am not suggesting that we raid other churches for members (we can leave this to others). However, on any given Sunday, 70% to 80% of Arlington’s residents will not be in worship. This includes children, older folks, and single persons. Let us do what we can to help people connect with God. Make it your goal to help Arlington residents get involved in IMPORTANT CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIPS.