A Sofa, A Bed & Plums

A Sofa, A Bed & Plums

Imagine stepping into a new church for the first time. It can be a daunting experience!

This Easter, for various reasons, many people across Adelaide will visit a church, some for the first time. If someone were to show up at your church, what would their experience be like? Without question, I’d want it to be like this newcomer’s recent experience of attending a Trinity Church, which he’s kindly agreed for us to share with you.

When was the last time you walked into a worship service and felt out of place? Either the music is too loud or off-key, or the people are too ‘enthusiastic’ or, in some cases, too glum. Maybe the decor is too ‘in your face’ or way too drab. We come up with something or the other.
I had a similar experience recently. New country, new city, new church. Someone had recommended this church to us, and we were literally testing the waters. Immediately, I felt out of place. People from different nationalities, cultures and races, and the worship was different. While I was being consumed by all these thoughts, the congregation broke into their first song.
We met the pastor after the service and went home telling ourselves, let’s see how things go. The pastor had told us to let him know if we needed any help moving in. We felt we shouldn’t take any favours as we didn’t want to feel obliged to go back to the same church. What happened after that? Well, the pastor messaged me a few days later, saying he wanted to get us some household stuff and asked us about what we wanted – I said yes to a sofa.
He showed up at our house one morning at 9am along with a senior member of the church and a young member. Together, we went around giving used stuff to other people – including the sofa, a table and a bed, which was for us. This was heavy work! As the infamous Aussie sun beat down on us, a cool breeze reminded me I was being watched over.
Our pastor dropped by later that night at almost 11pm to give me plums that I had forgotten to take from his car (another gift from one of the members of this church). These three men (with a mix of backgrounds from Singapore, Hong Kong, Portugal and Britain) were meeting me for the very first time! None of them had any idea if we would go back to their church.
Today as I sit on the sofa blessed with pure Christian love, I can’t help but think about the song that they sang in church on Sunday, ‘how firm a foundation is laid for your faith in his excellent word’. So now I ask myself, am I comfortable in this church? Am I at ease? I have been enveloped in an embrace so warm that it would put to shame any Australian sun?
I have been schooled yet again. In worship, all those things that usually bother some of us are all peripheral; the foundation is all that matters. A strong foundation is crucial to us living out our faith (Luke 6:48). And I think to myself, have I ever done things like this for another person? That’s the challenge they have handed down to me in their love freely given (John 13:34-35). What better welcome to a new member than love of this kind – pure, unvarnished, welcoming, as well as challenging! 
The gauntlet has been thrown down. All that remains for me to do is to pick it up and walk the narrow road in the faith laid in the foundation of his word.

Wouldn’t it be powerful if everyone who visited a Trinity Church this Easter walked away with a story like this? Let’s fervently pray that it might be so!

This beautiful account of the kindness, warmth, sacrificial love and welcome of God’s people magnifies God’s boundless love for us, which He showed us most clearly in Christ, our Saviour.

Together, let’s pray that God will enable us to boldly and genuinely love and care for each newcomer the way that God has loved us first, so that every visitor may encounter the transformative power of God’s love in our churches this Easter.