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    Jul 02, 2017

    Pentecost Proper 8A, July 1-2, 2017

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Rector

    Category: Weekly Sermon


    This is our first weekend combining our 8 and 10:15 services.  Last summer, while I was away on sabbatical, you tried this.  On my return I heard many positive comments and almost no negative ones.  Two of your comments stood out:  There were more of us worshipping together; and we got to see people from other services we usually don’t get to see.  We’re combining again this summer, so let’s meet each other in a new way today.   

    Let me tell you what I’d like you to do.  Please listen to all the instructions before you move.  I’d like you to find someone here today you do not know at all, or do not know very well.  So it will not be the person sitting next to you.  Choir and acolytes will have to come down.  Note that some members of the choir can’t come to you, so some of you need to go that way.  Find one person who you don’t know well, and if you know everyone, then find someone who is not a dear friend of yours. [I apologize to any first time visitors who may be here today. Please bear with us].

    Here’s what I want you to do.  Introduce yourself to each other.  It will only take about a minute.  Name; how long at Christ Church; and then share something about yourself that the other person probably won’t know.  It needs to be something you are willing to share – nothing confidential. 3 things:  Name; how long at XCh; something new that they may not know.  And I want you to remember what you hear.  

    [If someone wants to opt out, just come up here with me.  I promise I won’t ask you the questions].  GO!

    So… what was that like for you?  [Introverts might find it harder than extroverts.  Us introverts are not let off the hook though].  

    Please remember that person’s name and what you learned, and then greet them next Saturday (Sunday) and the Saturday (Sunday) after.  Do this before church begins; or as soon as the service is over.  Not during the Peace.  It doesn’t take long to ask 1 or 2 questions.  If you get good at this, try adding a new person each week.  Doing this indicates several things to visitors and other members of the parish:  That you notice them, you care, and, because each of you is a representative of this parish, you are being friendly and welcoming.  I think we’ve gotten out of practice doing this because what you just did is exactly what we are supposed to do every week.  

    Our Gospel today is all about welcoming.  Jesus uses the word “welcome” 6 times in this short reading. We welcome others into our homes, around our tables, and into our lives. Welcoming people at Church is an extension of loving our neighbor. It’s one of those things that we ought to go out of our way to do; especially those we may not know as well.  

    We have been praying a Prayer of Welcome at the start of our service for 13 years.  You know the prayer:  “Almighty and gracious God, we are your church, serving your mission….” This is a prayer asking God to send to us people who may need to see Jesus.  And more specifically, “All who are hurting or in need… all who are searching for you or answers to life”… so that we all may be transformed.  God is answering this prayer.  God sends people.  Have you noticed?  Are you going out of your way to engage with others each week?  It doesn’t have to be a new person.  It could be someone beyond your friend circle who’s been here for years and, for all you know, is going through a tough time right now.  If we neglect to engage with others, then we miss an opportunity to walk with them in their faith walk, and we miss seeing Jesus through them.

    I think it’s easy to be complacent about this.  We think we are welcoming and may be shocked to find out we actually are not.  We think others are doing so I don’t need to.  If you are not making some effort to do this every week, then we are not welcoming.  And that does not describe Christ Church.  I invite you to use your newly practiced skills, and be very diligent about this.

    Dear Lord, we pray, “Empower us to welcome all at Christ Church.”