Those people who rarely visited a church when it wasn’t adorned with Easter lilies and Christmas poinsettias. Those people who took precious parking spaces and pew cushions and coffee.
On Easter in 1997, Colleen and I invited our families to visit a church. It was so crowded that our Uncle accidentally bumped heads with the woman sitting in front of him. I still vividly remember the woman turning around, shooting him a very nasty look and demanding his contact information as one would a stranger in a car accident!
We now laugh about the incident, but never returned to that church.
When I became a member of a church and started attending regularly, I settled into a routine with my favorite seat and parking space. On Easter, I experienced the frustration of those people disrupting my routine. I forgot that Jesus makes it quite clear in Matthew 20:16 that “the last will be first and the first will be last.”
Many of us will soon have an encounter with some of those people on Easter. I hope that you survive the crowds without bumping heads with anyone. But the reality is that “those people” don’t just come on Easter and Christmas. Every single day someone is at Calvary looking for the grace of Christ in their lives. May we not greet them with an interrogation of membership status, but the light of the founder of our faith.
We are the body and as we welcome the stranger, we live into the Lord’s will for us.
Yours in Christ,