The Visiting Stranger
By Rita Broden
The House of Worship doors were open
All the greeters stood in place
Everyone came ready
To praise God for His great grace.
The sanctuary started to fill
As the folks all took a seat
Everybody looked their best
All nice, and clean, and neat.
A greeter took a look outside
And was very much dismayed
Approaching the door was a drunkard
(The greeter could tell by the way the man swayed).
The greeter thought, “What will I do?”
“I cannot let him in!”
“He’s dirty, and his clothes are torn!”
(“And he probably smells like gin.”)
Then the door was open, the man came in
And the greeter stepped aside.
“Should I welcome him in? or ask him to leave?”
The greeter couldn’t decide.
The greeter did nothing as he watched the man pass
The man took a seat on a pew.
Services started, announcements were made
And the choir started singing on cue.
When the first song ended the pastor got up
And said, “Greet somebody today!”
Hands started shaking, smiles and hugs were exchanged
(Except for one man, I should say).
The dirty, ragged stranger didn’t get a smile or hug
But it didn’t go unnoticed, as you’ll see
The greeter was still watching, and what he witnessed next
Was his greatest lesson in humility.
He watched as the newest convert walked across the floor
With purposeful intention in his mind
The convert hugged the dirty, ragged stranger; hugged him dear
And said, “I’d like to sit with you today, if you don’t mind!”
Services continued, songs were sung and lessons taught
And last the pastor made an altar call
The newest convert raced up front to the altar of his Lord
And upon his face, the newest covert, he did fall.
All the people heard him crying,
“Father God, forgive me please!”
(He was on his face now mind you,
And not upon his knees)
“I should have gotten up much sooner
To greet that man for you
Instead, I sat quite comfortably
In the back row pew”.
“I should have gone immediately
To greet the stranger man
Father, please forgive me!
I won’t let it happen again!”
What the crowd witnessed next
They couldn’t believe
And yet, it was a sight they all saw
The dirty, ragged stranger
Stood up on his feet
And when he did, he appeared to be 10 feet tall!
He had a glow about him
The look of love was on his face
The altar was the place he headed to
He knelt beside the sobbing man
Laid his hands on the convert’s back
And began to speak a language no one knew.
When he had finished speaking
He stood up and disappeared
The gathered crowd stood gaping and in awe
As the crowd began to whisper
One man was heard to say,
“Was that a heavenly angel we just saw?”
“Hallelujah! I’m forgiven!”
Shouted the convert to the crowd
His voice broke through the spell that they were in
“As I laid upon my face just now
God sent a messenger to me
And he assured me I was forgiven of my sin!”
Yes, the Lord had sent an angel
To His house that Sunday morn
And the newest convert only passed the test
His love for God was so fresh and new
All he wanted to do was share
He didn’t care how someone smelled or dressed.
Are we like the greeter, so quick to judge?
Is ours just a face in the crowd?
Are we like the covert, ready to share
The kind of love that makes our Father proud?