A few years ago Tom Bodett, in his colloquial manner, put a phrase into our culture that continues to this day: “I’m Tom Bodett from Motel 6. We’ll leave the light on for ‘ya.”
I doubt even Motel 6 knew what an impact this phrase would make. “We’ll leave the light on for ‘ya.” were words spoken with the confidence that no matter where a person might end up there’s a warm bed, a welcoming smile, and a good night’s rest ahead at a Motel 6. For all I know Tom Bodett never spent a night in a Motel 6 but I certainly wanted to go after hearing him!
His words, “We’ll leave the light on for ‘ya” echoed in my head when I was working with a few members of our church last week with ideas on church growth. Bill Midgett commented that we need to let our community know we’re here. The words that resounded in my ears, just like “We’ll leave the light on for ‘ya” were “We’re here…”
That’s the message of the Christian Church and this congregation:
“We’re here…” when you’re lonely.
“We’re here…” when you celebrate the birth of a child.
“We’re here…” when you’re struggling with a divorce.
“We’re here…” if you want to learn the stories of Jesus.
“We’re here…” when you are overwhelmed with the questions of life.
“We’re here…” because baptism is free and open to anyone.
“We’re here…” if you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
“We’re here…” when you need a sanctuary from the noise of life.
“We’re here…” because communion is a free gift from God.
“We’re here…” if you want a community of friends to support you.
Then I started thinking, Lord, of all the times when I heard the church say, “We’re here…” to me:
When my mom took us to church every Sunday as children;
When my dad had his stroke and our priest came to the house;
When I was confused as a teenager and I went to church to find peace;
When I felt your call to ministry and the church affirmed it;
When my dad died and my new church moved in to serve the lunch at our farm;
When the churches I served encouraged me as their pastor, despite my mistakes;
And when I needed to remember the priority of the lessons of peace and service from Jesus.
In every one of those instances and countless others I heard the church say, “We’re here…”, and my entire life has been changed as a result. When people tell me, “I don’t have to be in church to believe in God”, or, “Being outside is my church” they are missing the reality of the importance of a community of faith which sustains us with the simple words, “We’re here…”
The question now becomes how does every member of our congregation let people in our community understand the power of the relationship they can have with our congregation which is called together under the power of your Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus. In a big sense, “We’ll keep the light on for ‘ya” is the theme of the church. The light in our window. The light of God’s love. The light of a congregation that will care for and love them. The light of the enduring Christian faith. That’s every member’s job: to let our community know “We’re here for them.”
As always, thanks for listening. I think I just heard the Fat Cat saying “We’re here” for you. It’s time for lunch! I love you, Dan