In the last few weeks we have been in a few American airports –Houston, Washington DC, Orlando and Miami... no plane trip was on time and I have had a “pat down” every trip... but each place would announce its welcome to that place. I seemed to feel more unwelcome each time –not knowing the rules –getting caught out with my fitbit or a bracelet that would set of the dreaded beep. Shoes off, food out, empty your pockets... all assumed rituals of this welcome.
And it got me thinking about the way we welcome people at church –do our actions live up to our signs? What assumptions do we keep making –assumptions that people will already know how they are to behave, where they should go, what they must show of themselves. Information shared with kindness can be so empowering when you are unsure. A lack of knowing what is expected can make us feel vulnerable –certainly not welcome. God asks us to be welcoming to the stranger –so perhaps stepping back from the familiar is useful from time to time, to remember what new people might feel more welcome if they had been kindly told.