We stick with our family because no matter how mad they make us we have to put up with them and there is something about family ties that let all of us put up with personalities that we would never be friends with otherwise. We all know the saying that we choose our friends but not our family.
But what about our Church? We certainly choose our churches, yet we don't choose who belongs or who joins. We hope to create an environment in which all are welcome, but are we then each prepared for what that means?
As Christianity began to develop in the first few centuries, people were meeting in house churches. They were inviting family, friends and anyone they could to come and share in a meal and hear the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus. Christianity would have never spread like it did if people only invited those "like" them to these earlier churches. Paul writes to these type of churches and you can hear through his responses that they are going through struggle and divide. That the churches are full of different personalities. It is important to remember that even our oldest of foreparents in faith were seeking out any and all - not just those "like" them. We see this in the shift from God being the God of the Hebrews to God now being a God to the gentiles. No longer were the Hebrews the only chosen people of God but more importantly God had opened through Christ grace to ALL.
Here at Huron, we have a great family church. And despite the different personalities we seem to invite each other into friendly dialogue. I recently read a post of Huffington about how to "kill your church" in something like 10 steps. One of the steps was to call yourself family. The writer talked about how that could led your church to be too difficult for a new person to join. And yes, sometimes a family church can be so closed that they can't open themselves up to new people and we should keep that in mind so we don't make that mistake...but today thinking of ourselves as a FAMILY allows for us to open our doors to people who are not like-minded but who can feel comfortable that once you come to our church we will love you no less just because you think differently.
Once we have a safe sacred space, we can open ourselves up to deeper ministry and deeper relationships. When Russ and I first started here, the passing of the peace was amazing but the prayers of the people lacked requests...we have seen a transformation in the prayers for the better! And that is a true sign that we are coming to feel more Spiritually comfortable with our church family.
This week the challenge is to send a thank you note to someone within the congregation for being a member. Let us remember why we come to worship - to celebrate and praise God!