When I was a kid my favorite grocery store trip was when I could pick my own breakfast cereal. I was especially attracted to the ones that said, “New” or “Improved!” It seemed to me that I was getting something special. As a more cynical adult, I realize that ‘new’ and ‘improved’ is just a clever way to market something.

As people trying to live faithful lives in a consumer-driven culture, we’ve grown leery of new things and clever ideas because they usually cost us something. Changes like this happen on a repetitive cycle that we, mostly, have no control over.

But change can bring new energy and innovation that is enlivening. These are two of the reasons why “Reunion Sunday” has a new name – OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY. Yes, we want to assume that every Sunday is Open House Sunday. And, yes, this might be a title that we only use this year. Let’s try this on for size and see how it fits!

The main reason we changed the name is that ‘Reunion’ sounds like a closed family group instead of an open and inclusive church. And yes, we also changed the date because many churches in the area have their Rally Sunday or Open House Sunday on the Sunday after Labor Day. So, we’re hoping to invite some new visitors because of this change.

With this new name, OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, I hope the feeling we have, as well as our guests, is new also. This is important – we are not having an Open House Sunday to recruit new members. We are hosting this event in a new format – outside with fresh music to model our hospitality. Here’s why: like you, I mostly throw away fliers and advertising that tries to lure me into buying something I don’t need or want. I don’t want to be converted from a Best Buy shopper to a Radio Shack shopper. I don’t like being told that I’m not good enough because I choose not to shop or eat or purchase at a particular place. THIS can be the message our neighbors hear when we flood their mailboxes and doorknobs with fliers to come worship with us. The best way to welcome guests is to be welcoming, no strings attached. We can trust that people know what they want and are able to make good choices for themselves.

SO … our only job at OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY is to be the wonderful people that you are! Engage a new-comer in friendly conversation; talk about the weather, where they’re from, what they like about Minnesota/Minneapolis/St. Louis Park, or what they like to do for fun. Answer questions, if asked, about the church. Our only job is to be hospitable, to share a fun morning outside and celebrate the Rain Garden. No strings, no tricks, no traps … just a warm Jesus-like welcome.

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