"What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?" - Matthew 18:10-14
I love coffee hour, all my people are there. I know who they are, they know who I am. There's coffee, sometimes there are tiny sandwiches. It's great! But then there are those moments that gum up the works.
Like when I'm topping off my coffee and I catch a glimpse of someone standing alone by the door—gingerly balancing a coffee cup in one hand and a plate with two sugar cookies and three loose grapes in the other looking as if they have strayed far from their comfort zone.
I always wonder what brought them to church. Was it the Facebook posts or the community garden? That clever sermon title from a couple weeks back or the rainbow flag on the sign? Or maybe their mother is sick. Or their career is falling apart. Or they can no longer think of a single good reason to be alive. What's certain is they came to church seeking to know God and to be known by the people of God. And when I see them standing by themselves, I think: should I leave my friends and greet them?
What do you think?
O God, I was new at church once. Help me extend that welcome to everyone who comes to worship You.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Boston, Massachusetts.