I`ve been spending time this week with Stephanie, our new pastoral intern, and so I`ve been thinking about introductions. How do I describe First Mennonite to this new person in our community? What words would sum us up? What is essential information, and what information can wait?
Thankfully, I`m not the only person in charge of introductions. I`m going to challenge the congregation on Sunday to work on this.
The words we use for introductions can be tricky. I can remember a number of times being introduced by someone in a way that made me uncomfortable. They shared something about me that I did not think was important, or which I would rather not have shared. In the same way, we may not all agree on what words we share in introducing our church.
Happily, introductions are about more than words. When someone enters our church for the first time on a Sunday morning, or when they attend an event, like the fireworks potluck at the beach this Sunday, they learn a lot without words.
They will notice whether people make eye contact with them, and whether it`s friendly or suspicious eye contact. They will notice when someone comes forward eagerly to meet them, or tries to not cross their path. They will watch the interactions of our community–do seniors only talk to seniors? Are adults ignoring children or interacting with them? Are people enjoying each other`s company?
Our identity is something we project, clear as day, whether we use words or not. Love is a universal language.
This week’s prayer: May the words we speak be your words. May the steps we take be your steps. May the love we share be your love. May our community reflect Jesus Christ, clearly, truly, deeply.