I received your invitation for the Easter Services in my letterbox this week. There was a nice note attached which seemed genuine. You are that church that I drive past on the way to the shops – with the tower – and the old sandstone? The sign out the front seems very friendly.
You seem to be an inviting church. I have been thinking about your invitation. Should I come?
I have some reservations. I haven’t been into a church building for a very long time. I don’t even know what to wear. If I come, I would probably be on my own. I had always thought if I walked into such a reverent building like yours that lightning might strike me down once I got in the front door! And if that didn’t happen, then I would feel pretty exposed because I wouldn’t know where to sit or what to do or when to stand. I am sure everyone there would think I was an impostor. You who go each week, you must be so good, and I am not (although I won’t admit that to anyone!). If I can come, I fear that you will judge me! Would you all huddle together and talk about me? What would happen if I sat in a pew and no one talked to me – that would be so embarrassing? If I come, would I see a friendly face? Would you say ‘hello’?
A friend of mine visited your church, last Christmas. They encouraged me to go. You caught them by surprise – there was a message, there were songs, it seemed like people in the church cared about what they were doing and believed what they were talking about. And that you gave them something to take with them – a welcome pack, a book. There was a lovely morning tea or supper following. And someone invited them for a meal later that week. That is a bit different to what I expected – don’t you usually ask for something of those who come?!
When I was a child I was taken to church at Easter. There was something special. I can’t really remember what. Something about what Jesus had done, but it all seems a little hazy and I have forgotten what the connection is to Easter eggs or the Easter bunny! If I come, I assume you will talk about Jesus. Will you talk about meaningful things? Will it be for my benefit? Will it be good news?
I can tell you if I do come, I really hope that you will smile when you see me, that you will sit close by, that you will make me feel part of you. That will help me relax a bit. And that when you talk, you will give me something important to think about. I will try and listen. I might not understand everything. I will probably remain silent (I don’t want to sound stupid), so I’ll just listen to the way people talk about what is said afterwards (will it just be about the cricket?!). And if you don’t talk to me, I can just slink away.
I might give it a go. Just once.
And if it is a good experience, if I am challenged by what I hear, if I am invited back – perhaps I could start to explore what you are on about. Maybe the time is right for me to give God another look. Maybe there is something about what Jesus has done which will be for my benefit.
This weekend will tell.
See you at church. I hope you will see me!
A Stranger – who might just visit (and whose fears have just been brought out into the open)