Monday, April 23, 2007

Is anyone beyond the reach of God?

Our pastor raised a good question on Sunday morning in talking about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus: "Is anyone beyond the reach of God?" He went on to talk about overlooking the possibilities of reaching out to people that we think are unreachable or, perhaps more realistically, that we are uncomfortable reaching out to. He commented, "Do we spend too much time reaching out to people like ourselves?"

Why do we restrict those to whom we reach out? Perhaps they just make us uncomfortable because of their lifestyle, appearance, or actions. Then maybe we feel inadequate because we perceive that they are smarter, better dressed, or more affluent that we are. Could it just be that we are afraid that we will make fools of ourselves?

The pastor suggested several groups that should be considered for outreach--families with special needs children, senior adults who are becoming less independent, and those who are intentionally single.

Who would you add to that group? I think I would add college-age young adults, especially those who are openly antagonistic to organized religion. Another group would be environmentalists who tend to distrust Christians who have talked a better game of being good stewards of Creation than in actually doing something about it. There is also members of the artistic community who could add so much to our experience.

Can you think of others?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rejoice!

Easter morning brought a full house to morning worship at our church. At least 150 more attended than on the usual Sunday morning. I am sure that the situation was similar in your place of worship. It was a great time of worship with many families sitting together, powerful music, good preaching, and a public profession of faith. But what are we to make of all these additional worshippers? Why don't we see these folks all the time?

Of course, Easter is a special day. There are many worshippers who attend two or three times a month, but most make a special effort to be there on Easter. Some come because it is a family affair. Others may come out of curiosity or a sense of obligation.

So how do we treat these folks? Should we make them feel guilty that they aren't there all the time? Should we take the occasion to exhort them to more regular attendance?

No, we should do what our pastor did this morning: share a message of hope. Where do we find hope? At the entrance to an empty tomb. People need hope not guilt. They need hope not encouragement. They need hope not criticism. I am thankful that so many came to our church (and yours) to a place where the message of hope could be heard.