I went to the movie in a real live theater last night for the first time in a couple of years.  Beyond the sticker price, the big shock was local theaters also have reserved seating.  I was accustomed to this while in the "Big City".  WHEN did it become necessary to reserve seats in "Small Town USA".  (First world problem!)  The days of find a seat after getting a ticket, lining up for popcorn & proceeding into the dark theater are over.  My eyes do not adjust as quickly to the dark as they once did, so I stumble around when I enter a darkened theater.  And NOW they want me to find a row and seat number in the dark.  Can you believe with only 20 people in a 200 seat room someone was in my seat?  I am stopped staring at them at a loss as how to proceed.  I am a rule follower.  There were 180 other seats to pick from, but I need to sit in my assigned seat.  We worked it out--but not without discussion and slight trepidation.

Photo Credit-NY Times

A friend recently told me the two churches she has been a member of in her lifetime have one striking similarity.  The "Have's", "Want To Have's", "Social Elite" and those desiring to climb that ladder all sit on one side of the church.  Same side, same row, and if possible same seat---week after week.  (Unless some wayfaring stranger dares to take their spot-think dark large theater-assigned seat).  What I found really interesting is that in both cases--Church #1 and Church #2 that section for the "Elite" was the same side.  I refuse to tell you if it is left or right for fear of accusations of political leanings.  I will admit to having a special place I like to sit in church and the only requirement is that it be---at the end of the row.  This allows me to make a mad dash for the door when the service is over.  WHY would that be so important when we are the last church in town to dismiss and I will ALWAYS have to wait to be seated in any restaurant.  But bless their hearts, if anyone arrives late they must step over my toes to get to the middle of the row where seating remains.  HEY!  I got there early and I get the preferred seat!  What a wonderful message THAT sends!

We all have comfort zones and become accustomed to staying within those zones.  We want to feel like we belong.  What would happen if the pastor announced after the first hymn or prayer, "Everyone find a different seat at least 10 rows away right now."  Mass pandemonium would be my guess and perhaps a few who would slip out the door.    We strive daily to find "Our Place" and when we finally do, we sure do not appreciate someone taking it.  Our insecurity rears its ugly head when challenged to leave our comfort zone--where ever it may be.  It never occurs to us to seek out the stranger in our midst--that would be taking a risk we are not crazy about taking.  We prefer staying in the land of the known.

NOW--for the point.  We are charged with spreading the Good News of the Gospel message.  What message do we send when we allow a stranger to walk into our midst without acknowledgement.  Are we so in need of our own comfort zone that we cannot stop and consider how the stranger entering our midst must feel?   Are we willing to give up our reserved seat without being disgruntled?  Are we willing to not only meet the stranger, but actually act interested in who they are?  Are we willing to give up our reserved seat and sit in the discomfort zone for the sake of another?  Are we willing to cross the aisle to not only greet, but actually get to know our brothers and sisters?  What message are we sending to those strangers in our midst Sunday after Sunday?

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.

 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,

 for by so doing 

some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."

Hebrews 13:1-2


  1. You've really hit home with this reflection, Lulu. How uncomfortable must we get, voluntarily, to actually welcome someone new to our church? We are creatures of habit, that's for sure, and those habits aren't always the best.

  2. We once visited a church while on vacation and not one person spoke to us. Had we been looking for a new church in that community, we would never have returned. (Maybe they didn't want new members!!) Now I must put the shoe on the other foot. How many visitors have come to our church--sitting close to "our" seats--and slipped out without a greeting from ME?! I shudder to think. Lord, help me be attentive!

    1. We are all guilty but we can change!


Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!