A warm welcome
It has been so encouraging to see, following the death of our beloved Queen, people finding comfort and solace in our church buildings and within our liturgies. The ability to say a prayer, light a candle or remember a loved one are enabled by our open doors and warm welcomes.
I have met a number of people these last few weeks who have particularly commented on the welcome they have received within our churches. Such was the welcome that they decided to stay, became involved and grew in faith as a result. That is wonderful testimony to God in action, as we look out for the stranger and the searcher with the eyes of Christ and share with them the joy, love, hope and hospitality of the Gospel.
November is traditionally the month for remembrance, so the continued desire for individuals, perhaps with delayed grief following the Covid years, to find expression in Christian ritual within our churches will continue. Yet Christ’s command to love extends far beyond those who come into our buildings, and includes looking outwards providing for those in need, by sharing what we have, and welcoming in the least, the last and the lost.
This winter the Warm Spaces initiative invites us to partner with others in our town and villages to offer a welcome place for all those desiring shelter, warmth, and company. It may be that we support an initiative in our local village hall or library, or it may mean we invite others to help us provide that space in our churches buildings which are already being heated for worship.
As Thomas Long writes in his book ‘Beyond the Worship Wars “We show hospitality to strangers not merely because they need it, but because we need it, too. The stranger at the door is the living symbol and memory that we are all strangers here. This is not our house, our table, our food, our lodging; this is God's house, table, food, and lodging. By God’s grace we are all welcome.’