“Go into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet”
(Matthew 22 v 9)
Earlier this week two friends of mine, Mark and Christi, went through the unimaginable heartbreak of burying their three year old son, who tragically drowned the week before.
Mark and Christi are both Christians, and have shared publicly both their grief, and the way in which they have been sustained by the support of the church and the presence of God. In an open letter of thanks to those around them they wrote ‘You have shown us what the church is truly capable of…We have experienced, and are experiencing, the very best of what a church can be’.
At a time when everything in life was falling apart, Mark and Christi experienced the love of God as demonstrated by his people. People prayed, and visited, and cooked meals, and looked after their other children, and came to the hospital with them, and catered for the funeral, and cried with them, and stood beside them.
This is the kind of community that we invite people into when we invite them to come to church. A community where we are bound together by the love and grace of God. A community that sustains us through times of joy and times of sorrow.
Sadly, many people today have no connection with the church and simply do not know the power and the privilege of being part of such a community.
What is your experience of inviting people into the life of the church family (as opposed to a Sunday service)? What prevents us from offering such invitations?
Robert Schnase offers us the following prayer and reflection:
Give me the courage, Lord, to offer your invitation and welcome.
Give me the spirit, the grace, the right timing, the right tone, the right words.
Give me the voice to fulfil the task you give me among the people with whom I live and work.
Challenge: Write down the names of three people – such as neighbours, acquaintances or co-workers – who do not have a church home. Pray for them each day. Pray also for an opportunity to invite them to and event or a service at your church.