Stop, look around, invite them in
In my travels throughout our conference, many of you have asked about JaNaÈ and Joshua's transition into their new home and school. Delphine and I want to thank you for your concern and express our deepest gratitude for the wonderful way you have helped them experience your warm welcome. You have made this transition so easy because of your genuine concern and love for the kids and us.
When I think of this being "Open House Month" for the United Methodist Church, I cannot help but hope that visitors to our churches throughout Holston are experiencing this same hospitality. We have come to know - in the short time we have been here - the real spirit of "open hearts, open minds, open doors."
While I am aware that I have certain advantages as your new bishop, I encourage you to welcome everyone into your hearts, fellowship and worship with the same spirit we have experienced. I also encourage you to find every way possible to invite not only your visitors but also people in your communities to become a part of your spiritual families.
When you arrive at your church this Sunday, I want you to pause a few minutes before you enter the doors of your church buildings. Look around at the community surrounding your place of worship. I want you to notice: Are there people passing by or washing cars? Are there children playing? Are there any folks who you have not intentionally extended an open heart, open mind, or open door? Will you do it?
And if perhaps you can't move from the door of your church to extend that invitation, I want to pray for you:
Lord, strengthen my sister or my brother. Help us to extend ourselves to others even as you have extended yourself to us. And give us the assurance that you have gone before us so that our invitation, extended in love, may be met with loving acceptance of our words and, most of all, of us. Amen.
Want to learn more about what's on Bishop Swanson's mind? Visit "SOARING - A Bishop's Blog," a new Holston web feature, with personal notes from Swanson regarding his vision for our conference. Go to http: /bishopsblog.holston.org.