I couldn't help but be hugely pleased at church this morning.
1. The conductor (we like to say 'leader' I'd prefer 'reader' from my Anglican roots, or 'precentor' to give a liturgical flavour), our senior pastor gave such a wonderful welcome to service that I wish I'd taken notes.
The drift of it was that the events that impinge upon us, or influence us are separate to the who that we are, in God's image, redeemed and filled with his Spirit. Great!
2. The other pastor who gave the sermon, urged us to invite someone to a meal each month for the rest of the year. Nothing fancy, either at home or cafe, either share or go Dutch...for being together, being friends and sharing time. How friends are. Not to impress, but to be.
He also referred to the contact we make with visitors and how important to be friends to them; particularly people who are here briefly from abroad.
I recalled when I'd visited churches abroad and reflected on the degree of welcome.
Spencer St Church of Christ, Melboune: invited to afternoon soccer after service with a bunch of uni students, a member struck up a friendship with me, we had coffee in my hotel room and talked about faith, Schaeffer and creativity.
Garden Grove Community Church: big service, offical greeter/usher. No contact post service.
Disciples of Christ, New York: met pastor in study, attended evening Bible study with other young adults. No contact post this.
Cambridge Baptist Church: invited to home group, accepted as part of it, friendly conversations, but no contact after.
All Souls Langham Pl London: attended a number of services, part of small group, didn't feel included. No contact after.
University Presbyterian Church, Chicago: somewhat friendly minister, more interested in his 'litugical dance' than visitors. No contact after.
Cootamundra Baptist Church: fully accepted, a little social contact, but great hospitality with minister (Barnes?).
Cootamundra Anglican Church: hardly noticed, but got on well with young woman who also worked in the same office as me.
Group I joined travelling across the Mediterranian, South African woman, US bloke, Austrian woman (they were the Christians, there were other fellows from Canada, Switzerland and US): got on fine.
1. Melbourne Spencer St Church of Christ
2. Cambridge Baptist Church
3. Cootamundra Baptist Church.
That's for out of Sydney. In Sydney I lived in the inner city and went to Christ Church St Lawrence, my local. Accepted, engaged and invited to participate from the get go. The best church experience I've had!