Now Welcome In

Sometimes when I travel on vacation or when visiting relatives, I try to worship at a local church. But I'm never sure of how I will be received. You see, I prefer to participate in worship rather than to be merely a spectator. And as an amateur musician, music is central to how I connect with and communicate the sacred. It's common for visitors to sing hymns with the rest of the congregation, of course, but what if I bring an instrument (I would bring a clarinet, and 50 years of experience playing it)? Would my worship be welcome then? Can welcome come with strings attached? Church-goers may wonder what they will "get" from a Sunday's worship. But surely worship is also about what we bring. The old testament tells us to bring what we value - our "firstfruits" - to God (eg Ex. 34:26) and the in new testament we learn that we ourselves can be firstfruits (Jam 1:18). Surely, using our gifts to inspire and support those we visit enriches both our hosts as well as ourselves - otherwise, we are hiding our "light under a bushel". For some, that gift may simply be their presence, but there are those of us that have more to give. And I'm grateful to those who would receive it.