It is perfectly natural for a Christian to desire those holy encounters, those moments when God is tangible and drawn so close that every fiber in our beings reverberates with awe and wonder. We crave those times, because they remind us that we are loved, that we are important to God. They also confirm that we come from God, and to God our beings wish to be connected. So we worship, drawing close to the presence promised to be housed within the buildings dedicated as Houses of God. We enter in, take a seat, and wish that we would find what we want. Sometimes we do, and thank God for that. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes things get in the way, internal and external. When that happens, we can leave feeling worse than when we arrived. We do not just feel drained, we feel emptied. It is as if our beings were calling out, “Come back, Holy Spirit! Come back, and fill your people!”
So what do we do when we feel this way? Too often people walk away disappointed, dejected, and downtrodden. They slip from the fold, and may never return, because just looking back brings that horrible sense of emptiness back. When people in the Church ask if hospitality is important, if the connections made in worship as the Body of Christ are vital, I can say with absolute certainty yes. We are conduits for the Holy Spirit. It resides in us, as baptized members of the Church, but it also flows forth from us. It reaches out during the course of worship, binding us even more deeply than we can articulate. When you look around and see people smiling at you, someone who knows you by name, and see people who seem as intent on worshiping as you feel the need to be, then you find the Holy Spirit’s movement incarnate. You could reach out into the air and feel it move, pulse with life. It is a special encounter with God; one not replicated in the same way outside of worship, without the manifested Body of Christ. We are the means through which God provides that to others, to one another. You and I, we are vital parts to bringing God’s will to fruition in worship and for others who need to experience God. How we treat one another before, during, and after worship can significantly impact that experience, and thus the God encounter. We must remember that, and we must be cognizant of it every single time we enter into God’s House for worship. What we do and how we interact matters, because who we are matters. We are the people of God, children of the Father, disciples of Christ, and vessels of the Holy Spirit. May we be that when we gather for worship, not just for the glory of God, but for the edification of each other.