About the Author

Jill Maisch - as a writer, speaker, missionary, and educator - has a tendency to wander upstream... against the more comfortable current of social and spiritual complacency.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

For I was a stranger...

Has Jesus joined us in worship lately?  Did we recognize him? 

Was he the well-dressed woman who knew all the hymns by heart… or was he the unkempt woman from the shelter who smelled strongly of cigarettes and stale beer? 

Was he the immaculately groomed man sitting in the front row… or was he the man in grease-stained work clothes who arrived a little late because he just got off work?

Has Jesus joined us in worship lately?  Did we recognize him?  Did we welcome him? 

Did we?

I really got to thinking after reading a Facebook post this afternoon written by my dear friend, Pastor Shandi Mawokomatanda. 
He humbly wrote: 
"For I was a stranger and you welcomed me." (Matthew 25:35)... Jesus walked into our sanctuary this morning, and unlike any other time before in my life I had to do more than just talk about God's love, I had to live it... "Lord, help my unbelief.  Amen."
I remember a time not too long ago when two men from the local homeless shelter finally accepted our invitation to join us in worship.  I overheard a long-time church member ask - in a loud stage whisper, "What are they doing here?"  Evidently it was OK for some of us to go to the homeless shelter to serve... but inviting "them" to worship with "us" at "our" church was crossing the line.  Their comments broke my heart... and I'm pretty sure I heard Jesus weep that day.  
When did Jesus join you in worship?  What's your story?


  1. Beautifully put, Jill. Sometimes, it's really uncomfortable to fully embrace Jesus's message of love, and reflect Him to everyone, not just folks like us.

  2. I agree, Mel. We need to ask ourselves how we'll welcome those who come to worship and are not like us. I think it's important to be proactive and have these conversations in anticipation of all kinds of visitors... so people have the opportunity to express their fears and anxieties in a more productive way. Having someone plop down next to you at church who looks, acts, talks, sings, and very possibly smells different really can be uncomfortable... but I love the quote that reminds us “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”