June 9, 2018

The Invitation

We all watched and reflected with pride as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry delivered his sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Much has been written and spoken about the impact that sermon portends for the Episcopal Church and Christians today.

One area worth exploring again for our congregations and ourselves is the impact of an invitation. Specifically how often do we extend an invitation to family, friends, colleagues or even strangers to join us at our worship service and our outreach ministries.

Most of us respond positively to a personal invitation especially if it is from someone we know, like or respect. We may feel honored to be asked, good to be included or it may feel like an obligation to respond, but generally we respond positively. Of course there is always the case where under no circumstance would we accept an invitation especially under pressure.

When was the last time individually or as a collective we invited people or even groups to our church to participate in some ministry event. Some folks are really good at this and can enthusiastically answer last Sunday. Unfortunately for many others it has been a long, long time.

Our reasons for the lack of invitation are many: We simply did not think about inviting others, or that our invitation will be accepted, or that our churches are exciting enough, or that people in our congregations would be accepting of our guests. Excuses, excuses. We should do the inviting and let God do the work!

Practically, church leaders in announcements and sermons, can remind the congregation to invite others to worship service and other outreach programs. If special events are being held, invitations to neighbors and neighboring congregations are a wonderful gesture. Invitations to former members, the sick and shut-in and the family of those baptized, married or buried by the church should also be sent continuously not only on special occasions. There is however no substitute for a personal invitation.

Bishop Curry received an invitation to preach at the royal wedding and like us he had to make a choice whether to accept, deny or ignore. It may have been an easy or difficult decision for him but we thank God for the invitation, for his positive response and the far reaching consequences of that invitation.