Acts 10:34-35 (ESV)
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
There was a country church, which was having an old-fashioned mission festival.
It was -- in the life of the congregation -- a big deal. For a year, men and women of the parish planned, worked, cooked and cleaned to make a good impression on the expected influx of visitors. When the week came, everything went according to plan. Even the weather seemed to cooperate.
Everything was perfect, except for one fellow who hung around on the outskirts of the festivities.
His clothing was torn and tattered, his appearance, grimy and grubby. His face sported a week's worth of stubble. No, this was not the fashionable, unshaved look of the men's clothing catalogs, this guy was just grungy.
Don’t think for a moment, that the fellow, who was not "one of them," was in the least bit intrusive. He wasn't. He didn't panhandle. He didn't look longingly when the plates of food were handed out. He didn't bother the children or the women. He was just there. Of course, most of the time the outsider was forgotten.
Finally, the last day came. People sang with a greater gusto than anyone could remember; the choir was dynamic in its praises. Then from the back of the gathering came the fellow who was not one of them. Wives whispered to their husbands, "Somebody ought to stop him." Husbands nodded, but nobody moved. The fellow reached the front of the congregation, stepped into the pulpit, and spoke. The man, who was not one of them, quoted Peter: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him."
The man continued, "This week, I was physically among you, but I was never, as so many of you have been saying, 'one of you.' Nobody included me or invited me to the activities. No one shared a meal." Then he added, "Most of you averted your eyes and made me invisible." After that the man preached a wonderful sermon about how the Lord Jesus came to seek and save sinners -- all sinners.
Churches that are warm, and growing, make a people feel like they are a long-lost relative who had returned home.
Why not this Sunday when you are encouraged to say, "Hello" to those around you, don't just turn to your spouse and children. Be brave and make everyone feel like their home.
Dear Lord, help us to just like You loved and welcomed us into your family of faith do the same for others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.