As you approach the front entryway of my red-bricked home, you find a dark brown straw mat resting before the wooden door. Across this mat in bold black letters is the word, “Welcome.”
When strangers and friends make their way to our residence, the first word that they see is the impression that I hope they will experience as that front door is opened.
If you approach the back door of my home, however, you receive a significantly different message. The doormat that covers the threshold of this back entryway has no gracious words of welcome. Instead, guests are confronted with a different brown mat that is plastered with these words of greeting – “Wipe Your Paws.”
In my defense, the back door is used primarily for family and very close friends, who understand my sense of humor. However, it has occurred to me that we, as a church, individually and corporately, send a message to our guests as they walk through our doors. We may express a message of genuine care and warm hospitality to members and guests as we share broad smiles and sincere handshakes, or a different message may be perceived – one that shows no expectation or acknowledgment of their presence, and perhaps even one with an underlying expectation that people must have it all together before they enter.
As I read the psalmist’s words in Psalm 100, I am reminded of how we are to come into the church. “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise.” (Psalm 100: 4a). We are encouraged to come into this place to worship God with gratitude and exaltation, and we are to create an atmosphere that cultivates this opportunity for all people – the people whom we know and the people whom we do not know. A warm smile, a generous handshake, and a guiding presence can make the difference in helping all people engage in authentic worship and connect people with the love of Christ, who changes life and gives life. May this be the message that we share and receive at the doors of our church and beyond!
I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!