Sunday, 6 February 2022
Just this morning, I answered a question submitted through the Tikkun America website. It asked where the nearest Tikkun congregation was to him. Happily, since he hailed from Washington DC, this was easy for me to answer even with my patchy internal US geography, and I sent him the the details for Ahavat Yeshua Congregation who are in Washington.
I still remember visiting Ahavat Yeshua, although it was a number of years ago - that was the summer of the seventeen year cicada - and the warmth of reception for our whole family was outstanding. Do you remember when you first visited your congregation - were you welcomed or was it a bit so-so?
Asking a slightly harder question - what is your congregation like at welcoming visitors now? Do you have a team of "greeters" stationed at the doors to say 'hello' to new people and help them to find a seat? Do you make a point of talking to visitors or people you don't know after the service or during Oneg? It cna make all the difference, you know, welcoming people in the name of Yeshua and helping them to feel comfortable and - even if only for the one service - a part of the family.
People visit our congregations for all sorts of reasons. They may be curious; someone may have suggested they come and see; others come to check us out, thinking we are crazy or a bunch of heretics. Still others come because they are desperate and they not only need a space to find peace, but a listening ear and someone who won't criticise or ignore them. We need to be there for all those folks, so next Shabbat, keep an eye open for the stranger and be sure to welcome them into the house of the L-rd!