Brown Paper Bag

Unfamiliar Faces

Hi GracePoint Family,

For most of my growing up years, I recall going to my grandparent’s church on Christmas Eve. They had a service in the evening and of course my grandpa had to be there because he was the sound man. My grandma would also need to be there to station the welcome center.

Although I had been there many times throughout my life to that point, it was still a weird feeling to walk into a church where I didn’t really know anyone and I didn’t really know the space. It was uncomfortable.

I don’t really remember any of the services nor can I say they were really meaningful to me all these years later. What I do remember is the brown paper sack. The church would always have a table full of brown paper sacks that were full of goodies. There was a red delicious apple, usually a few cinnamon bears, the red and white gooey candy that had a Christmas tree in the center, and some forgettable items I am sure.

I couldn’t wait to tear into the bag but like a good little boy, I had to wait until after the service to get the bag and then eat as much as I could before my parents stopped me. In a church, full of virtual strangers that although nice, were still strangers, I felt loved and important because I got a brown paper sack.

Our Christmas Eve service is coming up in a few short days. As of this evening, I have received RSVP’s from 32 people who have no connection to GracePoint, letting me know that they are planning to come to our worship gathering at 5 pm. 32 people who do not know anyone at our church, do not know the space, and perhaps do not attend church anywhere.

We won’t have brown paper sacks to hand out but there are several other ways that we are going to be intentionally hospitable to our guests. They may not remember anything from the service itself or be incredibly moved by my sermon, but perhaps they will feel loved and important through our hospitality.

I hope you are making plans to join us on Christmas Eve evening and when you do, will you be mindful of our guests? Will you be the warm and loving people that you normally are? But will you also try and see through their eyes who are in an unfamiliar place where restrooms are not second nature to get to? Let them know where the restrooms are and where they can get a hot cup of hot chocolate and a cookie. If they have kids, be sure that they picked up an activity bag, and be on the lookout to make sure that everyone has a candle.

We are being given a great opportunity to touch the lives of many this season. I pray that God will use us in a special way to be His hands and feet to our community.

Praying with hope,

Pastor Phil