Matthew 10: 40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to travel to a lot of places. In Southern Arizona, I got to get up close to the Saguaro cactus. The ones that stand up tall and look like a person with arms. In Wyoming, I climbed up Pilot Butte and watched as wild horses ran in the open high desert that the pioneers once crossed along the Oregon trail. In Pennsylvania, I worked in 18” of snow along the Susquehanna River. Along the river are a lot of markers where some of the revolutionary war battles had taken place. In Louisiana, working in the swamp areas, I often wondered if anyone would find my body if I ran across an alligator or other wild animals!
My best memory of my travels happened in the small South Texas town of Zapata. I had been working for two weeks there and still had about ten more days before I would finish and could go home. My client told me on Saturday that he would have to take off on Sunday because of a family gathering he had to do. I decided that Sunday morning that I would get up and go to church. I put on my best pair of jeans and shirt and walked into the United Methodist Church of Zapata. The Rev. Jim Orr was pastor at that time. When I walked into the church, I soon realized that I was the youngest person there! There was only about twenty people in the church. Jim welcomed me to the service and apologized for the “small” crowd. He explained that the “snowbirds”, (people from colder climates) had left last week to go home and they were back to their usual attendees. We sang the old songs from the Cokesbury hymnal and did the traditional service. I still have the service bulletin in my traveling bible.
After church they invited me to go to lunch with them. We talked and got to know each other. I explained what I did for a living and about my attendance at my home church. It was a great relaxing day for me.
When I think back about that time, I look at how we welcome people at our church. I think about the Rev. Emmitt Barrow and his pie ministry, welcoming visitors to our church. My mother and dad received a pie when they first started to come to Greggton. How Sonya Cline and her welcoming team meet new people at the end of our services and invite them to lunch. Then there is our outreach ministry where we take communion and meals to our shut ins. My mother in law really appreciates the visits and meals.
Let us be the LIGHT for our community!
You never know how welcoming a stranger can sometimes make their day.John Hargrave