“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” - Romans 15:7
For a girl raised in a small, Nebraska town, I’ve experienced a good deal of the world. Work, education, time with friends and family, and a strong sense of adventure regularly call me to places both familiar and beyond the borders of my comfort zone.
In recent weeks you’ve sent me photos of the opera house, that museum, this trek, or that church where you’ve been invigorated by a captivating experience in some far-flung place. You may post comments about it on-line, gushing to family and friends about some remarkable experience so others may enjoy it vicariously. We thrill at the sojourn of a lifetime, but the places we regularly return are different from that.
When I think of those places that draw me back, whether down the block or across the globe, they are without exception those places where eager faces welcome me home. Though many of those places truly delight the eye with their enchanting beauty, my heart most eagerly returns to that café where everyone knows my name, that neighborhood where someone remembers my childhood, and that camp where every summer becomes a reunion.
This season I visited a church where my nametag hangs on a wire in perpetuity, as if waiting for me to walk through the door and retrieve it. A warm face greeted me enthusiastically, and when I couldn’t locate the nametag, joined me in the search. She chatted the entire time as we caught up on local news. “Ah”, there you are!”, she exclaimed, pulling my badge out from behind that of a more recent visitor. Such a small gesture brought us together again, a simple reminder that no matter how far I traveled, or how long I was away, there would always be a place for me at their table.
Here in Florida, we bird watchers scan the horizon for the annual return of our beloved snowbirds. No, they are not the aviary variety. Those people who traveled north or west or abroad for a season, now make their way back to us. Whether or not they return season after season depends in part on how we make them feel when they get here. Whether you are one of those birds making your way southward, or a local who kept the trains on the track all summer while they were away, prepare to fling open your arms and your heart in radiant welcome.
Welcome one another in Christ, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God and their joy.
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you, until we see one another face to face once again.
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida