Last year at the Grace Episcopal Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper, I walked in with two of my children still very much a stranger having only visited the church twice. What a difference a year makes! This year we walked in and my 7 year old immediately ran off to play with all his friends and I wandered into the kitchen to see how everything was going and if anyone needed help. Afterwards, my son talked about the possibility of staying with one of his friends overnight this weekend. ” Maybe even 2 or 3 nights!” he proclaimed excitedly. I laughed. ” They may need a break from you eventually.” He scrunched up his face in disbelief and earnestly replied ” Oh Mom, No one at THIS church could ever get tired of me! They all love me here and think I am a great kid!” I thought to myself, what a gift that is. To be part of a group of people who love you and think you are great! And what a great thing for a 7 year old to experience.
When members of a church become friends and friends become family, it truly is the best of all worlds. Living life together. Laughing, crying, working, creating, relaxing, serving. Loving each other. I am not quite as optimistic as my 7 year old. I highly doubt EVERY ONE at church loves me or even likes me. But there are certainly enough that I feel loved and accepted. And an even smaller circled of a few that have become as beloved as family to me. Now I am trying to make it my mission to make sure I offer the stranger that walks through our doors a welcoming smile. They may be a stranger now, but perhaps by this time next year, they too will be family.