It was my first time at church — meaning – the first time I showed up by choice.
Darkening the door under compulsion isn’t the same. Heels dug in and mind checked out doesn’t count. “Forced by parents” skews the equation.
I was in the parking lot, pondering my next step — an atheist having a weak moment. Small cracks had formed in the intellectual fortress I designed to insulate my heart from religious “non-sense.” I was eager and rattled at the same time. To get out of the car, push across the pavement and through the doors of a Bible believing, Jesus loving, protestant church – by choice – was completely out of character for me.
I surveyed the building like a nervous flyer eyeing the emergency information card before take-off. I approached the door cautiously, noting multiple exit points from the building, fearful I might need a quick escape. “Emergency slides will deploy.” “Seat cushion may be used as a floatation device in the unlikely event of a water landing.”
Then I met the greeter.
It was a warm-smile, firm-handshake, twinkle-in-the-eye, genuine welcome. He wore an awful grey suit, a bad haircut, and held a stack of lame looking church bulletins in his left hand. It didn’t matter. He was a volunteer; standing at his station, shaking hands with hundreds of complete strangers at the door of a huge church. It could have been cheesy and artificial. But it wasn’t.
How can I explain this? Forty years later, I remember the greeter.
I see him like a scrapbook memory now, faded in black and white. But the image never leaves me. Somehow, a total stranger ushered me into a whole new world that day. It was the human touch mixed with faith that did it – his faith, not mine. Do you know what I’m saying? Can’t you feel it when some actually cares? Can you sense the genuine faith of another person? Can the faith and love of another lower your defenses?
All it takes is a tiny crack in the wall. The love of Christ moves in and begins to work.
That’s my story. Maybe it’s your story too.
So now, I’m the greeter. You too?
(Photo Credit: Flickr)