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Sundays – A Jesus Party – St. Nick’s News May 24, 2024

Full St. Nick’s News for May 24, 2024

Dear friends,

Happy Memorial Day Weekend…
Happy end of the school year…
Happy start to summer…
Happy Trinity Sunday…
Happy…. all the things!

This past Sunday, during our Pentecost worship service, I mentioned the idea that Sundays are a party Jesus throws. This comes from the book Invite Welcome Connect by Mary Foster Parmer. She quotes Rev. David Killeen, saying, “Every Sunday Jesus throws a party at church. He is the host, we’re all the guests, but in our case, we are guests who have already experienced Jesus’ welcome. Now we are to share it with others.” Rev. Killeen goes on to share that he encourages his congregation to invite others to church and when they do, they open the doors wide and welcome visitors as if they are the most important thing to God – which they are!

Beautiful, right? Doors opening wide, paying attention to people in such a way that they feel seen, heard, and loved.

I remember when, as a newly married couple, Jeremy and I were looking for a church home in Dallas and out of dozens of Episcopal Churches, only one stood out with extravagant Christ-like hospitality. And I am not talking about the food! They had church coffee, water, and donuts. And they had it in the most intimidating place – the far side of the parish hall where we would have to walk the length of the hall and be noticed to get to the coffee. I was not a brave visitor and it took forever to go into the parish hall to get coffee.

No, the hospitality that made an impression on us was in the form of Mr. L. He was a man who took it upon himself to be the parking lot greeter. His big bright smile made your heart melt and when he talked to you, it was like finding a long lost friend. “What have you been up to? What do you need help with? Let me get the door for you. So glad you are here this morning!” And of course, in addition to the conversation and the attention came the hearty belly laugh and twinkling eyes.

I loved and still love that he was this rogue and radical greeter for Jesus. He never waited for you to come to the door – he would meet you out in the parking lot to greet you. Again – he embraced you like a long lost friend! He couldn’t wait to meet you each Sunday! He was a live enactment of the parable of the prodigal where the father comes running out to greet the long lost son! Rain- sunshine – sleet- heat- snow – you name it, he was coming out to greet you and make sure your Sunday started with a hearty dose of “you are the most important thing to God.”

I want that for all of us and for any visitor to St. Nicholas. As we enter the summer months where we intentionally slow down and rest, I pray we can be attentive to one another in such ways that we feel seen, heard and embraced by each other.

Jesus has thrown you and will continue to throw you a party. Invite others who need some joy and love in their lives to join you at church. Be like Mr. L and swing our doors wide open and greet people in the parking lot. Listen to their stories and welcome them to St. Nick’s with the abundant love of Jesus.

And yes, I am saying this to all of us. Whether you have been with St. Nick’s since the beginning or (dare I say it!) have come to worship this past month – embrace the newcomer and visitor. If you are an introvert (maybe help out with food and coffee) or an extrovert (parking lot greeting waits for you) there is a greeting job for you. If you have at all experienced the party that is Jesus – embrace the people who are brave enough to peek in and come for a visit.

It takes a fair amount of courage to come to a new place, meet new people, and worship God. We get to celebrate one another. We get to be rogue and radical greeters for Jesus. Let’s do it with great conversation, twinkling eyes, and a hearty belly laugh for the Lord!

God’s Peace, Love, and Blessings,