Did you ever visit a new or different worship experience? Do you know what it is like to be a “visitor”, a “guest”, an “outsider”? Very often in such experiences we feel self-conscious and hope and pray for someone to help us to feel welcome. We see that people are very friendly with each other, and so we hope they will be with us. We look at every face looking for a kind one. We go to the folks with the badges or nametags expecting them to be friendly and outgoing and to be ready and willing to help. But when disappointed we walk anonymously into the worship space, try to find a seat that won’t offend anyone, and reduce our expectations of good. This is not the way it is supposed to be. It is not the way we want it to be. But it is often true.
Now, did you ever forget to address an email, introduce a friend, just to take that extra step of kindness? You didn’t mean to it just slipped your mind. Or maybe too much was on your mind, or you were distracted, or maybe our consciousness just took a short vacancy break. Maybe we should give a break to those who are a little less than outgoing.
But even if they are cold and unwelcoming, now that we are there do we want it to be a bad experience? Why do we wait for them to come to us? It is like telling a friend if they need anything “just call” when we know the last thing in the world they would do when in need is to reach out. Our whole experience can be determined by our frustration and isolation. We could miss the grace of God, distracted by disappointment.
So the Way Stations advice is don’t wait for them to change their ways or to change in the space of a few minutes. Don’t wait at all. Take the initiative. Introduce yourself, ask them for the help you need, make friends. Show your enthusiasm, compliment your hosts. Create the positive spirit yourself. You may be surprised at how quickly and how well they will respond to your kindness.
I went to a conference once and everyone stayed in little familiar groups. Interaction was absent and social was anything but. It was awful. But then I noticed there were a few who did not sit around waiting for someone to come to them, they presented themselves, made friends, and gave that which they had hoped to receive and all enjoyed it just as much.
If we want to worship, we need to worship. We don’t want to watch others worship we want to participate and if we do we will have a much better time. So don’t just wait there, do something!
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