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“So, how is the transition going.” It is a question I am asked frequently these days, and for good reason. My family and I have just relocated here from Greenville, SC, and people are anxious to know how the Cadenheads are getting along in our new home.

The answer is that the transition is going well. Surprisinlgy well, in fact. I did not anticipate problems, but I could not have imagined that settling in with a new job in a new place three states and 10 hours away from family would have gone as smoothly as it has so far. We have stepped right in as though this is where we’ve been all along.

The reason for the smooth transition is simple: people have gone out of their way to welcome and accommodate us. Knowing that we are strangers in a strange place, people have been very intentional about helping us adjust – offering food, sharing local information, playing with our two young daughters, and most importantly, askling us repeatedly how they can help. People have not presumed to already know what we need; instead, they have sought to discover our needs and meet us where we are.

All this hospitality reflects something very important about the Christian faith. We serve a welcoming God. By His very nature, God invites us into His life. He is not an impersonal, unknowable God; He seeks to share Himself with us. And He so deeply wants us to share that life that He sent Jesus to come and meet us where we are. And through the presence of his Holy Spirit, He continues to offer that welcome.

As His church we are to follow that same pattern. How sad that the church is often perceived to be judgmental and unwelcoming to those on the outside. The church ought to be the most welcoming and inviting place in the world! If we who follow Jesus don’t have reason to meet people where they are and invite them into our life, then nobody does.

If you are not yet one of Jesus’ followers, I hope you will find the church – this church or any other church – to be a place of warm welcome. If that has not been your experience in the past, I hope you will forgive us and let us have another chance to put out the welcome mat for you. Your are our honored guests.

If you are one of Jesus followers then please don’t ever forget that Jesus sometimes makes himself known in the faces of those who would otherwise be strangers to us. Jesus loved to tell stories in which the outsiders came off looking like the Godly heroes, while the insiders came off looking like goofs. And Jesus delighted in spending his time with people that the religious establishment considered to be not worth the trouble.

Maybe one day, when Jesus finally has his way with us, there won’t be any more strangers among us.

Grace and peace,