Doubtless when others have learned that you are part of First Congregational or consider yourself a person of faith, you’ve felt a backlash in one form or another. Many different responses are possible in that moment. But one of the strongest is you can’t judge an entity by its worst adherents and samples, but only by its best.
And we can always say that with a confident smile because of our church home. I say that not because we are perfect—we are not. I say that because many of you are living proof in your walk with God that Christians are not pinched and narrow, but magnanimous and generous. I say that because your faith evinces not fear of truth beyond our Christian canons, but curiosity for various forms of truth, and trust in general that the truth will set us free—whether scientific, mathematical, or historical. I say that because of your general bearing as Jesus’ followers, you’re not about prohibition and negativity seeking to quash the spark of life, especially among those who differ from us. Beyond your core convictions, you bring porous boundaries to life in the spirit where an extravagant welcome works for everyone.
Because you are a living, breathing disavowal and contradiction of the negative stereotypes and caricatures afflicting the Christian faith all around us these days, I charge you to invite guests to visit us at First Congregational Church, Darien.
What’s more, this Sunday First Congregational should be close to its very best. We will have 13 new members (mostly because of you who invited them, but also because of you who welcomed them when they arrived.) We will have Katherine Hedlund and her Jazz Trio. You will meet Gary Morello and Mary Jo Colman, our Interim Youth Minister and Church School Director, respectively. Our children will sit with me for a special word, then bound off in a burst of energy to their classes.
After worship, we will spill out onto the lawn for a picnic of hot dogs and pulled pork with Josh Gleason’s band carrying on the torch of festivity for us. We will have games for children and the happy flavor of reuniting those who care about one another after too much time spent apart in our various summertime paths.
All it takes is a simple invitation to another. You don’t have to have memorized the Bible. You don’t have to know how to debate theology. You don’t have to know how to pray eloquently. You don’t have to answer for negative impressions that misguided Christians have somehow sent. All you need do is smile and say, “Come and see.” Invitations can always be shared in a gracious, hospitable way.
Remember, one service at 10 am because the jazz ensemble will rehearse with our choir in the early Sunday hours, and because we still have so much to set up.
I can’t wait! Please share your eagerness with someone without a church home.