Welcome Back

Awkward.  I am pretty famous (in my own mind) for being awkward.  Going in for a hug when a handshake was intended.  Stepping on toes during a hug.  Forgetting a name or asking a stupid question (in reality, my wife is the queen of asking awkward questions).  Cracking an inappropriate joke.  Probably, my best awkward moments happen when I simply do not know what to say.  Those moments of silence make me very uncomfortable and so I end up saying something ridiculous.  I find that as I get older, I just do my best to avoid awkward situations.  It is to my shame and loss, as I have missed out on some very good conversations and visits with people.  I have to fight loving the avoidance more than I love short visits with people.  
I want to avoid all awkward conversations and worse, awkward silences, by declaring here, in the safety of this blog, that all things will be fine and dandy when you step back into your church after your Covid forced hiatus.  Any awkward or stupid questions that are meant to start a conversation... I deem that none will be offensive.  So that person who finds it awkward to say meaningful things and asks, “So where have you been?  Long time no see” is given a pass and you will hear, “I have really missed you and so glad you are back”.  See, awkward situation avoided.  That person who is awkward by being too friendly and seeks to give you a long hug...you are free to share that you are just not ready for physical contact yet and if the message is not received...you are free to back away.  Last, but not least, that person who simply walks by and nods...you are free to interpret that as “Wow, great having you back but I am horrible at small talk and so I will just nod and then go home and kick myself for how awkward I am.  Hope they know how happy I am to have them back.”

I also want to announce that if you do not have some kind of earth shattering, emotionally draining, so glad to be back experience...that is ok.  For many of you, since you have been watching on line, you have been attending.  You have been interacting, in a way, with all of us.  Just without all of the awkward exchanges!  For some of us, getting back to interacting with people will be harder than you think.  That is ok, it is not only the right thing to do, the rewards are true and deep.

I love meeting together with the body of Christ.  They are my family and my friends.  My life is truly richer because of my times with them.  Honestly, my life is also more complicated and at times, more stressful.  But that is what it means to live and walk together.  It truly is the beauty and the beast of experiences.  It is what God loves for us to do.

So, before I make you feel awkward in person, let me welcome you back here.  I, for one, truly missed each and every one of you.  You make my life richer and fuller.  I love when we choose to seek to grow together in Christ together.  Just your presence in the pews (or the chairs in the balcony) is a shout out to the work of Jesus in your life.  It is an encouragement to me and it reminds me of the amazing grace that God has bestowed upon our lives.  Your presence is a testimony of the mercies of God that are new each morning.  When you sacrifice to come and worship with me at JBC the glory of God is on display and my heart is often overwhelmed.  When our church is full and excited, it truly is a taste of how joyful heaven will be.  I hate Covid and how it has made our times together harder.  I know God has, and will, use all of this for good, but I also pray, something like this never happens again.  Corporate worship is a gift from God that I will never take for granted again.  I am praying that this Sunday, all of us will be together again.  No empty seats at our table.  All awkwardness forgiven...just simply, WELCOME BACK.

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