One of the great things about being a pastor at Faith Presbyterian is the way we plan worship. And one of the amazing parts of the process is Worship Brainstorming Parties. (Hat tip to Marcia McFee of Worship Design Studio for the idea.)
At our brainstorming for our worship series that began last Sunday – A Place to Call Home – I invited participants to make a welcome mat for Faith Presbyterian Church.
My example used a scripture we read in Lent. Jesus tells his disciples to “shake the dust off” if they encounter people who won’t hear good news. People hear a lot of bad news in the world. I like to think that when we come to church, we are invited to shake off all that negativity, to be embraced by good news.
Another mat invited people not wait around outside, but to come on into the warmth of home.
The idea of “home” appeared in a number of mats, echoing – not just our series – but people’s profound sense that church is a place where we are “at home with Jesus.”
People are, also, sensitive to what might make someone feel unwelcome – or ill at ease – at church, and created welcome mats to convey a sense of inclusion in a challenging world.
The mat on the left below forms the letters of WELCOME using the word “welcome” in many different languages. I am impressed by how much thought and effort went into this design. (And how helpful google can be.)On the right, beside “We Welcome All”, is a purple fish. Pundits tidily title sections of our nation as “red” or “blue,” as though our politics and people don’t mix. The purple fish is our congregation’s affirmation we are both red and blue, right and left, Republican and Democrat and we – like you – are all welcome here.
On the right, beside “We Welcome All,” is a purple fish. Pundits tidily title sections of our nation as “red” or “blue,” as though our politics and people don’t mix. The purple fish is our congregation’s affirmation we are both red and blue, right and left, Republican and Democrat and we – like you – are all welcome here.
Another mat says “Come inside. You’re part of the family” and is surrounded by stars. Genesis tells us that God has promised that the people of God will be as many as the stars of heaven. We each shine and we are a multitude! I used Prisma (as I did with all these photos) to modify the mat in a way that makes the stars harder to distinguish, but filled with color. I like to think of us all that way – through history, right to today – beautiful, bountiful, hard to see sometimes, fitting together for a purpose.
Someone got right to the heart of life in any active home. Get people together – even in the name of God – and there will be some kind of a mess. That’s a theme we are exploring in worship on April 30. We read in Acts 6 about arguments breaking out in the brand new church of Jesus Christ. The church then and now can disagree, or make a wreck of things. It’s all part of learning to live like we are following Jesus. I like to say that resurrection is messy and living the resurrected life is messy. It is such a blessing to live it.
Another person had the insight to leave the welcome mat uncompleted:
a reminder that it takes all of us to make the church a welcoming place.
Finally, one person thoughtfully held up a blank piece of paper beside her face. “The best welcome mat,” she said, “is me. A person who welcomes you to our church.”
What welcome mat would you like to see at a church? What welcome are you laying out for others?
Jesus welcomed all. What he wouldn’t tolerate was exclusion. The church is still finding out how to be a place of welcome for all people, in the name of Jesus. Some times we trip. Then, we hope we shake off the dust and ask Jesus to be at home with us again.