Sunday’s bulletin will note that the flowers in the chancel have been given by Ebenezer Diabene in honor of his family’s arrival in the United States for the very first time. If all goes well, Ebenezer’s wife, Diana, and three of his four children, Yvonne, Pearl and David, will arrive from Ghana tomorrow and be with us in worship on Sunday. Many of you met oldest son Kingsley in August when he was here for a short visit. He has returned to Africa for his university studies.
Some of us have gotten to know Ebenezer since he became an LPC member four years ago. Those who have not yet spent time with him have a wonderful experience in store for them. Ebenezer is an incredibly faithful man with an amazing story of God’s grace and providence that has brought him – and now, finally, his family – to the United States.
World Communion Sunday will be a very good day to welcome Diana, Yvonne, Pearl and David to LPC and to the USA – to welcome them home.
Just this past week, I read a review of a book that will be published later this month, Strangers Next Door, by pastor and missiologist J.D. Payne. Payne points out that over 45 million immigrants now live in the U.S., more than in other nation in the world. Many of those who are new to our shores have not heard or experienced the gospel and their presence as the “strangers next door” is an opportunity for the church to share God’s love through welcome, care, support, friendship and conversation.
But like husband and father Ebenezer, Diana, Kingsley, Yvonne, Pearl and David are not really strangers. They are part of the family, already beloved members of the household of faith. We just don’t know them yet. In fact, they are fellow Presbyterians from one of the most vibrant Presbyterian churches in the world. We will have much to learn from them.
How we welcome strangers, whether they be family from afar or visitors from across the street, is nothing less than a test of our faithfulness, our allegiance to Jesus: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” the King will say to those blessed by his Father (Matthew 25:35).
You may have noticed the increasing number of visitors in worship with us recently, most of them not from far away, but from our neighborhoods and communities. At all three services we have been blessed by new folks coming and returning. How are we doing at serving and loving Jesus through the strangers in our midst?
I hope to have Ebenezer introduce Diana, Yvonne, Pearl and David to us during the 9:45 worship service. Please welcome them home following worship and during the fellowship hour. Oh, and be on the lookout for, extend a greeting to, share some love with, those other strangers – they may be brothers and sisters or in God’s plan will soon be – looking for a place to call home.