Let It Begin With Me...
When I was in Wisconsin one of my favorite things to do with my limited free time was to sing in a men’s quartet. We would do hymns and spiritual songs in four-part, barbershop style harmony. We would sing at ice cream socials and other neighborhood events as well as worship services. It was a blast!
Once a year, one of our members would make sure that we could attend the annual Wausau Barbershop Concert. It was wonderful to hear the sounds of almost 70 men’s voices blending together. From the first moment I heard barbershop, it has always made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
In barbershop, there is a tradition of ending every concert with the same piece. They end their concerts with the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” It is a wonderful song, with a wonderful refrain. The words of the refrain is “let it begin with me!”
I am writing about this because of a conversation we had in a recent Bible Class. The discussion came up about the manner in which Zion welcomes guests and new members. It was interesting to see how the conversation flowed. Long time members seemed to think that we do a good job in welcoming new members. However, it was sad to discover that some newer members felt as though they were not welcomed as warmly as they could have been. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I had heard this. Several folks who have been new to our congregation have shared the fact that for several weeks, they were almost totally ignored by many members.
My friends, this should not be! If there is a place on earth where there should be a warm welcome, it should be within the Church, the very body of Christ. Remember, we are guests in the Church. We have no right to be there. It is only because of Jesus that we even have a place in the Lord’s House.
So while we may think we are a warm, welcoming congregation, there are indications that we need to do better. So it begs the question, how? The answer is the end of that Barbershop Concert. “Let it begin with me!” Watch how you interact with those around you in worship. Scan the service. Is there someone there that you don’t know? Then go meet them! You may be afraid, but that is ok. They are likely more afraid of you than you of them. Offer your name. Ask theirs. Then try to remember! Work at it. When you do, something remarkable happens. You play the part of making Zion a much more welcoming place!
Don’t look to others to change. Let it begin with you. Take the lead! When you do, you will be serving the Lord in the process.And the result will be a beautiful, tight harmony among those gathered for worship at Zion.
LET IT BEGIN WITH YOU!!!!
See you in Church!