Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost - Pastor's Message
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
When I was a kid, it was about this time every summer when we would pack up the car early on a Saturday morning and drive to the small town of Buckley, Illinois for the annual Gronewold Family Reunion (Yes, Dale and I are distant relatives!). Though this was the only day of the entire year when we would see most of these cousins, it was a day filled with much celebration. A huge meal of fried chicken, homemade chicken and noodles, pie, together with all the fixin’s would be followed by an afternoon of playing horseshoes, fishing, and visiting in the shade. It was always a highlight of my summer and something I looked forward to with excitement. For at least this one day of the year, we were TOGETHER.
Next weekend, September 7-8, is our annual Rally Weekend Celebration here at St. John’s. Much like gathering for a family reunion, Rally Weekend is always something I look forward to with joyful anticipation as our church family comes TOGETHER to kick-off all of our fall ministries.
During this year’s celebration, we will serve TOGETHER through our St. John’s Blood Drive. We will worship TOGETHER through our three weekend celebration worship services, including a combined 10:30 Sunday morning worship service in the Parish Life Center. We will prepare to learn TOGETHER as we get signed-up for Sunday School and a variety of fall ministries. We will connect TOGETHER as we roll-out our new online REALM community. We will eat TOGETHER as we share a meal together on Sunday on the church lawn with all the fixin’s. And, we will have fun TOGETHER as our high school youth race around Springfield, ending at the church for pizza and worship. It will be a great weekend and we hope you will join us! After all, we cannot be fully TOGETHER without you!
As we come TOGETHER, it is important that we be mindful of the many guests and visitors who will join us for our celebration. Every year, Rally Weekend is one of our top weekends in visitor attendance. We are planning a number of ways next weekend to make sure that all of our guests and visitors are fully welcomed and shown Christ-centered hospitality as they worship with us. Though we make an extra effort to share hospitality on Rally Weekend, it is something we need to be intentional about each and every weekend. I encourage each and every one of us to go out of our way next weekend (and every weekend!) to seek out the guests and visitors in our midst and to make sure they feel welcome.
Here’s a few tips:
• Don’t wait for guests and visitors to come and introduce themselves to you! If you see an unfamiliar face, take the initiative to go and introduce yourselves to them!
• Invite guests and visitors to sit with you in worship! It can be uncomfortable sitting in the sanctuary or Parish Life Center by oneself.
• When you are enjoying your cup of coffee after worship, don’t sit at the table you always do! Sit at a table with somebody new! Make sure no one is sitting alone!
• Be present each and every week! Your weekly presence communicates to guests and visitors that St. John’s is an active, alive, dynamic congregation and something of which they want to be a part. If you don’t show up for worship, why should they?
Let’s come TOGETHER next weekend to celebrate the family that we are! It only happens once a year and we want you to be a part of it with us!