Welcome Home - Rev. Jody Long
On Saturday, October 6, before my beloved UGA Bulldogs got a very inhospitable welcome to Columbia, SC by the USC Gamecocks, there was a wonderful welcome home. Sgt. 1st Class Scott Faile, through some elaborate emailing and planning, had his family named “Military Family of the Game” and made a video showed to the entire stadium. He talked of his desire to be there with them at the game and how he would be returning to them very soon. Well, you know what happened next. Sgt. Faile strolled out of the corner of the end zone and his family (along with the rest of the stadium, despite their team allegiance) went crazy! His wife and children ran to meet him as fast as their feet would go and hugged, kissed and embraced him. They knew how to welcome someone.
Each Sunday, a welcome to our guests is offered from the pulpit and I imagine our guests would be startled, to say the least, if one of the ministers ran up and hugged them for all its worth during this time. But the welcome from the pulpit should only be another welcome not THE welcome our guests receive. In Soul Feast, Marjorie Thompson writes “Hospitality,” how we welcome anyone into our lives, “is an expression of love. It is a movement to include the guest in the very best of what we ourselves have received and can therefore offer. Its is the act of sharing who we are as well as what we have.”
Every day, we have the opportunity to practice hospitality. On Sunday, though, our church as a family of faith has the opportunity to welcome home any and all who walk through our doors. My friend Kyle Matthews’ song, “You Belong Here” echoes this sentiment:
This is a dream I have that there might be a place,
where before I cross the threshold they recognize my face.
They've been expecting me, the table has been set.
My bed's already made and they speak to me this way:
You are welcome in this family; You are wanted in this place.
You have value to your Maker that your past cannot erase.
There is room for all your searching, there is music for your song.
There are shoulders you can cry on and the strength to carry on
You belong here; Welcome home.
Beginning this Sunday, October 14, we are going to be more intentional about hospitality at FBCX. We’ve already had different members offer a personal welcome from the pulpit and this week we’ll be inviting our guests to join one of the ministers for a quick cup of coffee in the Bride’s Room following the service. It’s another step to welcoming ANY and ALL who come to this family. Bring a friend to church and let this good church family proclaim, “You belong here; Welcome home.”