I serve as a Hospitality Minister at my church.
On the Sunday’s that I am assigned, I greet people at the doors as they are hurrying into mass. Our initial meeting is usually very brief, rarely allowing for eye contact. They are busy searching for available seats, often shaking off their umbrellas, taking off their coats, or gathering their children together, trying to leave their chaos at the door. I have two children of my own, so I know how difficult it can be to get all of us ready and out of the house on time to get to church and seated for the very start of mass. Like those I am observing, it usually takes us a while to get centered and truly focused. Leaving the outside world behind can be very challenging.
I stand in the back of the church during these particular Sundays and I watch from behind. As time goes by I see husbands and wives reach out their hands to each other, even for a moment, as a sign of their unity. I see others kneeling down in prayer or stretching their hands upward to the heavens, truly living in the moment of praise. Peace and tranquility have triumphed.
But then as I move to the front of the church and lead each member of the rows out to receive Holy Communion, I am allowed another very special and important view. I see their faces. Faces no longer hurried. Faces no longer searching. Faces that have settled into their surroundings. Yet the outside world has NOT been left behind. Each face clearly shows the years that have passed. Some are bright and smooth, young and vibrant. Others are old and wrinkled, aged by experience, loss, and hardship. But all of these faces are full of hope. As they enter into the most intimate encounter with their God, they are able to bring all their troubles and fears, pleasures and comforts along with them, however chaotic.
I am humbled as I bear witness to this connection of God calling his people to Him. God invites every part of us to His table. Nothing needs to be left at the door and the seating is plentiful.