Far Astray
By John Edgerton
December 27, 2022

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
~Matthew 18
I love coffee hour, all my people are there. I know who they are, they know who I am. There’s coffee, sometimes there are little cookies or grapes. It’s great!
But then there are those moments that gum up the works. Newcomer moments.
Like when I’m topping off my coffee catching up on committee work with a longtime member. Then I catch a glimpse of someone I don’t recognize standing alone by the door—gingerly balancing a coffee cup in one hand and a plate with two sugar cookies and three loose grapes in the other looking as if they have strayed far from their comfort zone. Looking as if they are ready to bolt at a moment’s notice.
I always wonder what brought them to church. Was it the Facebook posts or the landscaping? The rainbow flag on the sign or maybe the community service the church is known for? Or maybe their mother is sick. Or their career is falling apart. Or they are looking for some reason, any reason, to have hope in the world again. What’s certain is they came to church seeking to know God and to be known by the people of God. And when I see them standing by themselves, I think: should I leave the ones I know and greet them?
This isn’t just a pastor thing, either. This is a question for all of us who are enfolded in the church.
Prayer: O God, I was new at church once. Help me extend that welcome to everyone who comes to worship You.