See, Frank Turk put it to us to write parables. He says they are easy, peasy, Japanesey… my last effort was rightly panned. So here is #2:
There were the greeters. I see them from the parking lot, vested keepers of the door, waiting to welcome the world to rest. They had bulletins in hand and hearty Good Morning on their lips. They were greeters; they greeted and their nametags declared them.
Once past the gates the nametags disappear as do the greetings. I move to the angled pews, passing clusters of chatterers on the way. Nodding to those who smile at me, both of them, I make it to the center pew. I sit and join my fellow saints in meditation over the tri-fold, full color order-of-service-announcement-kids activity brochure.
Pastor Gregg came on stage as the band plays softly in the background. I wait for the house lights to dim – they remain bright. Gregg, dropping the ‘pastor’ as a barrier to fellowship, welcomes us all and asks us to welcome one another. 360 degrees of handshakes and side hugs follow and I enjoy the press of the Saints. It ends too quickly as Gregg calls us to attention. The lights finally dim.
There is a serious passion with Gregg as he extols the congregation for their hospitality and love for the brethren. There are camps planned, suppers for only $5.00 a head, cheerleading, and basketball – out reach and in-gathering. He brings up Jesus and tells us he was hospitable too. We should be like Him. The lights come up and worship is clearly over.
I sit undisturbed and complete the tear out comment card in the tri-fold. ”Were you greeted upon your arrival”, the Deacon Board wants to know? Thinking of the vested ones, I put a check in the box and pack up to leave.
I make my way to the back of the auditorium and the chatterers politely move to the side, letting me pass. The greeters are busy welcoming the second service crowd and I get scant attention as I head to the parking lot. Sunday morning is past. I head out for lunch alone.
This evening I stare at the front door of a building housing the Church of God. It is a mile from this morning’s service. Small group, heck its evening, but I am met in the parking lot by a young man getting off of a motorcycle. He sticks his hand out and tells me his name is Mike.
Mike seems genuinely glad to see me and begins introducing me around. His pastor, his friends, his wife are all a delight; asking me my name and finding out from whence I hail. I cannot speak to everyone, but it is probably just a time issue. The pastor calls us to order.
Bible study, Psalms and spiritual songs follow. Standard fare as far as Sunday evening bible study goes, but at the end Mike invites me out for ice-cream with him and his wife.
He gets my phone number and promises to call.
He is as good as his word and he invites me for lunch after next Sunday’s service, which ends with communion.
I never did fill out a card at that second church, but man was I greeted.