The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."
And let everyone who hears say, "Come."
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
During a recent "Invite-Welcome-Connect" workshop at The Falls Church Episcopal, we heard about the value of invitation.
It's a fascinating fact that even though we live in an era of internet, advertising, Twitter and Facebook, the number one reason people come to church is - or get connected to a ministry once there - is because someone invited them.
Here's what I find even more fascinating, though:
No one ever has to tell you to invite your friends to something about which you are genuinely enthusiastic.
You see a new movie or discover a new music act or read a new book, and you say, spontaneously, "have you heard about ________?"
There's joy in sharing joy.
So...ponder this a minute:
What are some reasons you come to church?
Why do you, among all the choices you have on Sunday mornings, decide to go to church?
And - if you're connected in any way to any ministry of the church - why? What's the reason you're involved, and not just attending?
I think - I hope - that if you dig deep enough into your reasons for coming, or getting involved, you'll eventually get to the word "joy."
Remember that Christ - and therefore Christianity - is announced in the Bible as "Good tidings of great joy."
That is first thing that is said in the angelic announcement about God coming to earth as Jesus.
As the author Steve Backlund writes,
The angel did not say, 'I bring you news of a teaching that I hope you can follow,' or
'I bring you news that Jesus is coming; and boy, is He mad!' but no, the message was, 'It's time to celebrate!'
God is doing what you couldn't. God is making a way where there was no way. You are being saved from the curse, from rejection, shame, punishment, poverty, sickness; and from performance-based living. The door is being opened to eternal life; intimacy with the Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and so much more. It is incredible, joyous news!That is the message; that is the reason - I hope - at the root of your coming to, and being involved in, church.
(If you don't feel joy about your church, then that's a problem; talk to your leadership (me or Rev. Kelly or Nina or one of the wardens, if your church is The Falls Church Episcopal.)
So yes, plug your favorite new movie or restaurant or vacation spot.
But if you feel joy about your church, give yourself permission to plug your church too.
Don't worry about his or her response; God is in charge of their response, not you.
Only concentrate on what you have control over: sharing your joy, and inviting....
...saying to someone, soon,