Somehow, even when we are all in Christ, it isn’t always easy.  Our United Church of Christ states that we are a church of extravagant welcome.  I’ve offered to try to craft a worship service for our next new member Sunday that conveys the message that “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” — not just tolerated, not just allowed to sit on the side and be quiet, not just come in to service and duck out afterward because you don’t know anyone — welcome.  

I’m having a rough time coming up with ideas that are new and vibrant, yet comfortable enough that people who’ve been members for 45 years won’t be offended and leave in disgust.  As I’ve tried to speak with the pastor, director of children’s ministries, and director of music, I don’t feel as if I’ve hit upon anything that will fill the bill.

See, I believe that God not only allows us to be part of the universe, but that God aches with love for us and wants us to come and dwell together and be in relationship.  How do I come up with an hour’s worth of words, songs, dances, whatever that will convey this?

Ever-changing Energy,

You were the originator of the universe and yet, oh-so-many years later, every morning is new and each day is different.  You are always changing yet always the same.  One day in your presence is worth a thousand elsewhere.  Amazing!  I want only to commune with you, to live in the peaceable kingdom in your eternal joy.

Extravagant welcome

Gracious God,

I come to you this morning, asking for your wisdom.  Send your holy spirit to be with me and with all those in my community at the Congregational Church.  Help Greg, Vicki, Laura and me to craft a service of worship of you and the extravagant welcome we promise people.  Remind us that each of us is just as you want us to be, your valued child.  Lead us, Lord, starting at the beginning place of love of you.  Take us to where you want us to be, whatever that looks like.  Help all of us to realize that each of us have different gifts and different skills and different ways of finding your divinity.  Help us to respect each of these ways, the old and the new, the typical and the unusual.  Help us to find ways to blend them into the most lovely tribute we can imagine.  Send us your spirit of gentleness, to avoid offense, and your spirit of restlessness, to keep us from repeating that which separates us.  Remind us that we are all Christ’s body. As you call us from tomorrow, where you live already, help us to find ways to enjoy your dynamic tension.  To include people in a way that shows your longing for them to come and be in relationship with you, with us, with one another.

WelcomeParty

Loving Lord,

Our building, our people, our computers for composing the words we will offer you together, our hymnals, our voices – all comes from you.  May we be caretakers of your gifts.  Lord, I am grateful for all with which you’ve entrusted me.  I hope to give you glory through my servanthood to your creations.  I love you so much!

welcome balloons

And I pray in the mighty name, Jesus,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

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