Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Welcoming the Neighbor
You never know what you're going to get when you knock on a stranger's door. If you have ever been a solicitor or walked through neighborhoods taking a survey, you're familiar with the adventure of door knocking. Anything can happen.
I've spend many afternoons since arriving at this congregations walking through the community and introducing myself. I've been told to "milk being new", and this is one way I do. I knock with no intention to survey or sell, bother or harm. My smile and small flier simply inform neighbors that they are always welcome at St. John's. Sometimes, that's the most surprising news of all to those I meet.
I was called because this congregation believes they are meant to grow in and for the community. There is a desire to serve as a neighborhood church, to be proclaimers of the gospel and the hands and feet of Christ to those right here. There are plenty of churches in our neighborhood with bigger Sunday school programs and more bible studies. Other churches have more members or more Sunday services. But, in addition to our many strengths, we are right here.
I wander in good weather and sometimes in good weather turned bad. I meet people who tell me about their churches or seem completely apathetic about faith and organized religion. I meet friendly pets and dogs with deadly barks. I meet people who like to talk and people who'd rather keep a screen door between us.
Today I met a woman that made the whole block worth it. She lit up when I introduced myself. "Hi, there. I'm the new pastor at St. John's Lutheran right up the street and I just wanted to stop by and introduce myself. I want you to know that you're always welcome at St. John's. We worship on Sundays at 10am and here are a few fall events you might be interested in. You're welcome to join us anytime."
"You say you're a pastor? You're the first pastor who's ever knocked on my door. You're the first pastor who's ever been here. Will you poke your head in and say hello to my mother?"
As my eyes adjusted to the dark living room light, I found an old woman in a recliner waving. I waved back and listened to her daughter repeat my mini-monologue loudly to her. The daughter's voice quivered just a bit as though my knock had meant something.
Her voice provided fuel as I started another block.
Posted by Meta