I hope and pray for many things all the time. I hope and pray for my daughters, my husband, my friends, my co-workers, my church, plus many other things. I hope and pray for good spouses for my daughters, a good work environment for my husband, that my friends will have all that they need, my co-workers have energy to do all that God has called them to do and that my church may show the love of Christ to one another and to all who come to visit us. These are just a few of my hopes and prayers; sometimes my prayers are very specific, sometimes general, but my hope is always grounded in God’s will for those I pray for.
My greatest hope and prayer for my church is that each person coming into our church will be cared for and loved as God loves them. I hope that those of us who have been coming to worship here will know God’s love and show that love to the stranger among us. I hope that our warm welcome of greeting to those we don’t know will show our love for God and God’s love for others. My hope is that every member of our congregation will be a welcomer to those around us. It could be as simple as welcoming those sitting in front of or behind us in the next pew. It could be welcoming those who are sitting across from us in worship, or we could stay in the narthex greeting and helping those coming into our building. My hope is that no one leaves worship and our church feeling they were never welcomed by us.
My hope for this church may be out there for some people, but for me this hope is as real as the hope we have in the resurrection. Resurrection hope is real because the resurrection of Jesus has already taken place. Because we are confident in this resurrection, we can then be confident to welcome others into God’s love. This living hope of the resurrection of Jesus is ours to share with others, not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done for us. As I Peter 1:3 says, “by his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” How can we not be welcoming people in light of the resurrection hope that we have.
As we live in this resurrection hope, we can put aside our fears and be welcoming people. We can welcome people into the resurrection hope that we have by being friendly and smiling, greeting those we don’t know along with people we do know. This place would ring with welcoming greetings to one another, with laughter and with hugs or high fives, but this can’t be accomplished with just a few of us. We need everyone’s help to do this, in the sanctuary, in the narthex, while serving coffee and as we usher. My hope is that each one of us will take the time and greet someone we don’t know and someone we do know. If we all are greeters, then everyone will be greeted.