Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 (NRSV)
56Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 6And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant 7these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. 8Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.
Do you like giving gifts—or do you like receiving gifts? I admit I like the control I have when I get to give the gift. It can be hard to receive a gift, especially if it is something I think I neither want or need. I wonder if our congregations like giving gifts better than receiving them. Sometimes our “Welcome” greeting really means come and join our worshiping community and be just like us. Instead of asking what you and your congregation can give to the community, try this question instead: “If your church building (your “house of prayer”) were available to the neighborhood and community, how would your neighbors put it to use?” Maybe the answer to this question can help us all get to what Isaiah is prophesying: “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Dear giving God, help me to be ready to receive, even if it means I don’t know what is coming. Amen.