Looking Up – Worthy Interruptions

Hopechurchws   -  
Dear Hope Church,

In my small group study of the gospel of Mark this year, I was struck by Jesus’ attitude towards people who interrupted his plans. He was not annoyed or frustrated as I would be, but instead showed compassion and care to everyone he encountered, especially those who seemed to be on the fringe of a group. His life even began with an interruption when He left His perfect fellowship with the Father to live on earth.

Author and Christian thinker Rebecca McLaughlin says that “an alone person in our gatherings is an emergency.” (Read her convicting article here.) And now that we have been welcomed into His family, he clears our vision and we begin to see and value what he values. We feel urgency when a visitor enters our worship hall. We long for those on the fringes to be enveloped into our family. Over the years, I’ve heard people characterize Hope as a welcoming place, but might God grow us more deeply in our welcome? Could each of us prioritize meeting a visitor or someone we don’t know every Sunday morning? If someone enters our building feeling alone and forgotten, might we make it our “emergency” to ensure that they never leave the building feeling that way?

We will surely have to ask God for help with this on Sunday mornings. I often walk in consumed with all the effort it took to get myself and my family to church. Might we ask God to give us eyes for newcomers as soon as we get out of our cars? Instead of entering with our minds fixed on whether our needs and preferences will be met in worship, can we ask God to help us see others and their needs?—Who is arriving alone? Who is visiting? Who needs a friend? This commitment to welcoming others may mean I can’t finish the conversation with my favorite friend. I might need to get on the greeter schedule. I might have some awkward initial conversations trying to get to know people. It may mean moving from my favorite spot with my family to sit with someone who arrives alone. My agenda and plans for the morning might be interrupted.

Jesus assures us that this interruption is worth it. If we know that Jesus was willing to have his fellowship with God interrupted, maybe we will be so assured of his goodness that our hearts won’t be able to stand letting anyone leave our gatherings without experiencing his welcome and love through us. Amazing that God’s Plan A for redeeming this world is using broken people like us to invite others into his kingdom! Let’s not give up or get complacent—the news is too good to keep to ourselves.

Grace and Peace,
Margaret Ann Speakman