In the deepest days of winter, when snow is thick and days are shorter than we’d like, it’s sometimes hard for us to imagine the return of Spring when beautiful flowers begin to bloom and the sun seems stronger than ever. But even the most pessimistic among us have to smile when it actually happens and we realize that – yes, winter does end and new beginnings mark warmer days to come. I’d like to think of the growth of our church a bit like the coming Spring. There are days when it’s hard to recognize that seeds planted will eventually bloom beautifully. Seeds such as our new Pastor – who brings a new vibrancy to our worship and ministry. Seeds like our wonderful musicians and our dedicated staff who go above and beyond to support our mission. Seeds such as Bay Shore’s many wonderful volunteers who always raise their hands to help – whether its partnering with Hephatha or guiding our youngest members in the faith.
I look at all of those amazing seeds planted and think to myself – I’m so glad that I’m here. But I wouldn’t be here unless someone had planted the most important seed – the seed of welcome – when I needed it most. Nearly 20 years ago, when I was in my 30’s with a 5-year son, I didn’t have a church home. I grew up in the Lutheran church but after college, a busy career, relationships and frustrations with my previous church experiences made me hesitant about looking for a new church home. Then I met Tiffany Kather, whose son Josh was in Kindergarten with my son Nori. As they became friends, we became friends and I found her to be one of the most giving, caring people I know. One day while walking, we just started talking about religion and she shared her experience with Bay Shore Lutheran and described what it meant to her. It wasn’t a hard sell, just sharing her story and I was intrigued. She invited me to join her – no pressure – and I did. I started to come regularly with my son and found a warm, caring church community that was so different from my previous experiences. A church home that has lifted me up through many life experiences both happy and sad.
John 8: 5 tells the parable of the farmer who went to sow his seed. We all know that some of that seed fell on rocky ground and withered. But – that seed that fell on good soil? It yielded a crop a hundred times more fruitful than what was sown.
Today, as Bay Shore, faces growth challenges, I feel the call more strongly than ever to start planting my own seeds of welcome. I will be inviting some friends to attend. Some may take me up on the offer and some not, and that’s okay.
What does Bay Shore mean to you? How are you sharing the love of our church with others through seeds of welcome? As we focus on a theme of invitation over the coming month, I encourage you to think deeply about this. Take the chance on inviting someone new to experience Bay Shore. You never know what your seed will reap.
–Christel Henke, member