Friday, December 20, 2013

A Welcoming Heart

     She came to our choir room looking a little lost not certain what part she could sing or even if she should be there.  We encouraged her to try both parts (alto and soprano) and see where she felt comfortable.  She was very unsure, very timid, but we continued to reassure her that we wanted her in the choir.
      When our choir performed at the mall, she and I rode with another lady and had some time to talk both going and coming back home.  I learned a lot from her.  She had been a widow for six years but could not quite get over the loss of her husband.  Her children wanted her to start getting involved in things and to meet new people; so her first effort was to join the choir.  I am not certain who invited her to join us but I am so happy they did.  This woman has a precious heart that desires to be a part of the Body of Jesus Christ in service.  What does she need?  What we all need...a heart that says "Welcome, we are glad you are here."
      Jesus made it clear that we are to love one another.  John 13:34-35 reads:  …34"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  How important it is then, to demonstrate love and concern for those we meet and especially in the fellowship of believers.
      When we have traveled around and attended different fellowships, we found some places very friendly, welcoming in heart and spirit.  We were greeted with smiles, handshakes, and an encouraging word.  However, there were some places where no one spoke to us or attempted to greet us.  The question is why are they so unfriendly when Christ commanded us to demonstrate love for one another?  In fact,  this type of atmosphere is dead and empty.  John wrote in his first letter these words:  1 John 4:20:  "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen."  What a good point to make with clear application.  How do we treat our brothers and sisters?
Think about these questions seriously.  Do you take time to meet new people who come into church and make them feel welcome?  Do you reach out to people that you do not ordinarily spend time with in order to get to know them?  God wants us to be iron sharpening iron and this doesn't happen if you stay in your own little cocoon.  If you have offended someone, can you forget your pride and apologize to their face?  If you are the offended one, can you forgive and move on?  This is all part of being a family.  Likewise, we are a greater witness to those outside the church if we can love each other enough to move past our disagreements.
      This Christmas will be extra precious to me as I have made a new friend.  How blessed and enriched is my life and the life of our choir because we have welcomed someone new...made her feel a part.  She is a precious soul for whom Christ died and my desire is to see her blossom in our fellowship and grow.  Losing a mate is a sad proposition, but we in the body can restore joy in the hearts of widows, orphans, the sick, and any whom God calls to be His own if we demonstrate a welcoming heart.  Doing good deeds, giving gifts, and attending church are all wonderful things to do, but loving one another as Christ loved us is what our lives are meant to be to God's glory.  This is true not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.  Make a new friend, encourage someone to get involved, become a mentor or encourage another who is grieving.  We are the Body of Christ and if we do not love others the world will never see the power of Christ that overcomes the world.  Selah!

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