When I moved back to my hometown to be closer to family, finding a new church home was important to me. Though I had grown up Baptist, Lutheran theology better expressed my adult Christian faith.
So I visited one church’s Saturday evening service; it was small and informal—no music, just word and communion. After the prayers we passed the peace. Well, they passed the peace. I was left holding my hand out, feeling very uncomfortable as the other eight people shook each other’s hands.
When it suddenly dawned on someone that I should be included, one person tentatively moved toward me and gave me the cold, no-grip shake. Most of the others followed suit, but I felt like a leper. Did they see in my black skin a warning to stay away, even in the house of the Lord?
Needless to say, I never went back there. Five years later, this is still fresh in my mind.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Is your community truly welcoming? Are you? What can you do to ensure that all feel welcome?
Today we remember Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. This message was adapted from “Welcoming the Stranger” written by Jessica Lee that first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. If you are reading “Daily Grace” online, sign up to receive it by email daily.