Light: it can be a welcoming thing, whether a sign that a home is expecting guests, or that the end of a dark place or time is near. As one of those lights that can get tangled up, though, we can sometimes forget how important the light of welcome can be – especially at this time of year.
It’s a great time to be alive.
Well, I say that every year around this time, because my favourite sports are on television in massive quantity: hockey season continues (it may not be our year, Habs fans…), and there’s plenty of curling on. The Scotties Tournament of Hearts has been underway all week, and the playoffs begin today. In a week or so, the Brier begins. Then the women’s and men’s worlds are on. Indeed, it’s a great time to be alive.
I started watching curling in the early 1990s, and watching it sparked an interest for me to learn how to play. In the little town we lived in at the time, we had a curling club, but I didn’t know anybody who played, so I didn’t learn how. The next community in which we lived was much larger, but its curling club was about the same size. There, however, I knew someone who played – and he invited me to learn. And I have been playing ever since.
There are a couple of encouraging words for us here. First, watching isn’t the same as playing. One can learn a lot of strategy and the basic rules of the game by watching it, but you’ll never learn how to deliver a stone or sweep if you don’t put on two different shoes and get on the ice. Second, an invitation is sometimes all it takes to get someone in the game. Most people won’t just walk in to the rink and say, “Teach me to play.” Someone needs to extend the invitation.
But because this is Encouragement From The Word and not Encouragement From The Curling Club, you know there’s got to be an application for our faith life here.
Watching isn’t the same as playing. Going to church is not always the same as being the church. We can attend church services, and that’s good, but to be the church takes faith, and action. Being the church takes what forms us and informs us by going to church and putting it to work to make a difference for the Lord in the world – not to appease God, but to please him.
An invitation is sometimes all it takes to get someone in the game. While churches do get “walk-ins” – people who just show up for worship – the vast majority of people who come to a church and stay have come at the invitation of a friend. We can’t keep our faith life to ourselves if we want our loved ones to experience the same relationship with God that we have. Sticking your neck out and offering the invitation to church, or to a small group, could make an eternal difference in a friend’s life.
It’s a great time to be alive. We who follow Jesus have so much to share by being the church, and inviting others along!