Soundcloud: Listen Here (note: manuscript and live recorded sermon are often very different)
So You Think You're Friendly
I’ve been asked multiple times if there will be any Star Wars references today. Yoda have to come and find out. But, there won’t be, I’m sorry. I promise it won’t be a dark sermon, though, and I’ll keep things on the light side. But I won’t force Star Wars on you. That’s all I could master… muster… for one sermon.
καλωσόρισμα Kalós orísate
ברוך בואך Baruch haba
Dobro pozhalovat Добро пожаловат
I'm a student of languages. I find them fascinating. Many languages express things we do not have words for in English, emotions or concepts we struggle to relate or don't even consider. If you do a little research, you'll find that every language has the concept and a word or phrase for WELCOME.
And most websites include this phrase in their "useful phrases to know" for almost all languages. After hello, and some important questions, it's ranked highly for communication. While its urgency may not rank with things like, where is the bathroom or what you'd like to eat, it is important enough to us as people to create a phrase and learn it and use it.
Something within us recognizes the importance of not just greeting those we know and love, but to make even the stranger feel at home. And this is a calling to which God calls us quite clearly.
A recent experiment... VIDEO
This was an experiment by a for-profit company. Not a charity, not a church. It created a space in which strangers could meet and find common ground, form the basis for friendship with a stranger through mutual love of something outside of themselves, and to go away strengthened, and encouraged. Now... The Church is FAR more than that. But it has to be AT LEAST that. Is it? Is the Church as friendly as a street corner ball pit? Is our church? Shouldn't it be?
Someone once said home is the place you go and they have to let you in. Like most things, it's funny because it is true. But what about the people who aren't family? Don't people become family? Aren't there neighbors you trust with a key? With house sitting?
Those friends of you and your kids. At some point, they stop being front door guests and start coming in the side or back door or garage. They knock as they open the door or stop knocking altogether. As you sit around the kitchen table for snacks and meals and holidays, you stop asking if they'd like a drink and they head for the fridge for what you have on hand, maybe only because they stop by for it. You moms of teenagers stock your pantry this way.
How many conversations do you have with someone before they're an acquaintance? A friend? A family member? Can they become a loved one without conversation? Is there anyone in your life you'd call a loved one with whom you've never had a heart to heart? Heard a secret? Shared a secret? Been vulnerable? Trusted? Revealed or unearthed? I bet there isn't. So do you think you can form a family of faith, a community of believers if you don't converse? Step outside your comfort zone? Find the common? Do you think you're friendly? Have you tried as hard as the people in this video to make a friend, a connection to someone new here at First Pres or new to you? Have you tried to do that often? Every Sunday? Today?
Most of you know David Upton. This is David’s home. When I visited him last week and asked if we could bring him anything to make his new room feel like home, he asked for just one thing. A picture of the church. This place is home to him. You all have made it that. Will you make it that for others?
Today, you have a ball near you, hopefully enough in each row for everyone to have one. Your color is going to be your guide. During the offertory, you'll have a chance to go to someone new or new to you, or at least that you don't know well. I'll know if you're cheating. ;-)
Colors = specific question.
Red – Your favorite Christmas tradition – and WHY?
Blue – Your favorite dessert or treat… who makes it or where do you get it?
Yellow – Who loves you the most?
Green – What do you love to do most?
Purple – What makes you feel welcome?
In just a moment, during the offertory, you'll go find someone and get them to answer your question and you'll answer theirs. After the service, I will once again ask you to linger and find two more people for the same assignment. You will leave here knowing 2 new people a little better. And you'll be known. Meaningfully, I hope. You'll have started something that I pray you'll continue.
Christ's clear command to us to welcome the stranger. Christ's call is to make disciples. Christ's disciples were his friends, those he loved, those with whom he broke bread and went through triumphs and trials, parades and storms. Isn't that what the Church is for? Are we a street corner or are we a ball pit? Are we friendly enough that disciples can be made here? Do you think you're friendly?
Do you think you’re friendly? Will you be? If so, say we will!
You can be. You can do all things in Christ. He will strengthen you. Amen.