"Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy hehas shown you." Jesus, in Mark 5:19, speaking to a man he had just healed.

A few weeks ago WPSU broadcast a documentary entitled “Our Town: Kane &Mt. Jewett.” The broadcast stretched over three hours, and included the sights and scenes of Kane, the town in which I was raised. Even the frequent breaks to solicit pledges and donations were entertaining because Kane “personalities” staffed the phone lines and engaged in silly, good natured ribbing and banter with the hosts. I was filled with equal parts joy and pride as I saw so many familiar places and the dear faces of treasured friends and acquaintances. The show reminded me of all the wonderful things that unite those of us – past and present – with ties to that small corner of McKean County. That’s not to say that Kane is perfect. Like any community, it has its problems and challenges. But it played a crucial role in forming who I am and so it will always claim a special part of me.

In a very similar way, I know that St. Matthew has that kind of effect on folks. There’s something about the carillon bells, the stained glass, and our distinctive, traditional form of Lutheran worship that provides a comforting, nourishing reminder of your formation. The timeless words from Holy Scripture that comprise our Liturgy, the melodies of familiar hymns, and the marvelous, mystical encounter with Christ that we are promised in the proclamation of God’s Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion fill us with peace, warm our souls and testify that we are home. That’s not to say that St. Matthew Lutheran Church is perfect. Like any community, we have our problems and challenges. But for nearly two centuries, St. Matthew has played and will continue to play a crucial role in forming Christian disciples in the Martinsburg area and will always claim a special part of all who have the privilege of worshipping here, including those like me who have been blessed to be called to serve as Pastor of this remarkable congregation.

It’s no secret that during a pastoral vacancy, attendance falls. Folks drift away. Other things can so easily take the place that church once filled. In the last three months, through God’s grace, attendance has increased. People are coming back home, and for that I am deeply pleased. But we can all think of folks who at one time regularly attended St. Matthew but who we have not seen recently in worship. It might be a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker. Please invite that person to come back to St. Matthew. Please invite them to come back home.

Maybe that person is you. Perhaps you have been away for a time. And maybe, as you are reading this, God is stirring something in you, filling you with a holy longing to come back to St. Matthew. “But Pastor,” you might be anxiously thinking, “I’ve been away for so long. What are the people going to say to me?! What will you say to me?!”

I think our response will be quite simple. “We missed you. Welcome back to St. Matthew. Welcome home.” For here at God’s house, there is always a place at the table set just for you.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Mary Eunice wrote:
“We missed you. Welcome back to St. Matthew. Welcome home.”

I thank God every morning and evening for the kind and caring Pastor and worshippers here at Saint Matthew's for bringing me close to the holiness and glory of God.

It is true, as Pastor Scott said in the 3rd paragraph, that the nearly tangible holiness in Saint Matthew's warms my soul and makes me feel as though I'm almost in the Happy Land itself.

As I read all the ponderings our beloved pastor has made, I feel holier and more serene than I've ever felt before. Thank you for accepting my family into the loving atmosphere of Saint Matthews. I'll try to repay you all by being the best Christian I can, but even that won't be enough! God bless!

Fri, December 30, 2011 @ 6:38 PM

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