At the conclusion of yesterday's Refresh gathering, as part of our sending the church out to be church, I introduced Jeremy. Jeremy had entered my life approximately an hour earlier when he walked into the YoungMarrieds class I teach. Jeremy is not married, so I have no idea as to how he landed in our class... but he came in and took a seat.
My sweet wife, Susan, evidenced her lovely Christ-like heart as she introduced herself to Jeremy and got to know him a bit. Jeremy revealed to Susan that he hadn't been inside a church building in years. He went on to say that he'd been reading his Bible one day last week and felt God's leading that he needed to be part of a church on Sunday. Jeremy called his mother in Florida to let her know what he'd sensed God saying to him... and she encouraged him to find a church.
God saw fit to lead Jeremy to SoHills and plopped him in the midst of our YoungMarrieds class. We discovered in further conversation with him that Jeremy had walked three miles from his apartment to the SoHills building. He joined in our class discussion (we were talking about the importance of believing the best in others when there is a gap between expectations and behavior) which was rooted in 1 Corinthians 13. Jeremy told me later he really needed to hear what we talked about in class.
Susan invited Jeremy to sit with us during Refresh... and we were soon joined by our "adopted" son, Serge. Serge and Susan explained to Jeremy what was going on during Refresh (things are never as familiar to a newcomer as we like to think).
As the four of us made our way to one of the tables to celebrate Jesus Supper, I asked Jeremy if he'd mind if I introduced him to the church during the sending. I explained to him that we always expected to have guests among us, and I let Jeremy know that introducing him would be a wonderful reminder to the church of God's faithfulness in sending people to us.
Jeremy let me know he was fine with me introducing him, and so I did.
It was very cool to see how church responded to Jeremy. He was immediately enveloped in a mass of Christ-like humanity. People were hugging Jeremy, getting his cell number and giving him their cell numbers, inviting him to lunch (he had three invites) and offering to give him a ride home.
As I stood and watched this outpouring of hospitality to one who was no longer a stranger among us I smiled. God was expressing His "Welcome home!" to Jeremy and we (church) were privileged to be the instruments our gracious Father used to deliver that sweet message.
I love watching church being the church.