What says, “Welcome!” to you? Is it a friendly, smiling face at the front door? A delicious meal in the presence of family or friends? Perhaps it’s the decorations that say, “Someone who cares lives here.” Maybe it’s your dog who greets you with tail wagging or the cat who curls up in your lap. I feel welcomed when I am around family and friends who I know genuinely care.
I also like to welcome people into my home. I want whoever stops by, family, friends, students or repair people, to be greeted warmly and feel at home for whatever length of time they are with me. I try to anticipate each guests needs and accommodate those needs. I have hooks by my front door for coats and hats, a rug to wipe their shoes on, warm colors and a bench to sit on if they wish to take off boots. I also usually ask if I can get them anything such as water or coffee. When I have out of town guests overnight, I have extra toothbrushes and other items that they can use just in case they have forgotten something and of course, there are blankets and throws within easy reach in case someone feels cold. I enjoy providing these things so that my guests feel comfortable. But all of these things are just that – things! I think what my guests really need to feel welcome is me.
I can provide everything my guests need, but if they are not met with a friendly greeting, if I do not sit down and talk with them or listen to them, if I’m too busy to acknowledge their presence, I can guarantee they will not feel very welcomed. In fact, they would probably decide to go home and leave me in my busyness.
I wonder if that isn’t how we sometimes welcome Jesus? We go to church on Sundays. We acknowledge Him at church and perhaps even serve at our church. We work hard at serving, preparing for Him and making everything look beautiful on the outside, but inside we are too busy to stop and spend time enjoying His presence. When Sunday is over, we go home, back to work, back to our families and back to our busy schedules; never once thinking about Jesus or how we can welcome Him into our homes, our families, our work and all that makes up our lives. Yet He is there. He is always with us. He is waiting for us to stop for a moment, sit down and enjoy His presence. How can we welcome Jesus into our everyday lives? How can we acknowledge His presence?
Welcoming Jesus starts with an awareness that He is indeed with us every single moment of every day. The presence of His Holy Spirit is there, more real than the air we breathe. If we could cultivate that awareness, then I believe welcoming Jesus would come more naturally.
What Jesus really wants is us. He wants our love and He wants us to accept His love that He desires to lavish on us. So this week, let’s welcome Jesus. Let’s get up in the morning remembering that He is with us and giving Him thanks for His great love. Let’s finish the day by recounting His faithfulness and thanking Him for walking with us through our day. Let’s try our best to be more aware of Him in our lives and simply welcome His presence. I’m going to start with this simple prayer, “Welcome Jesus, I’m so glad you are with me. Teach me to look to you as I go through this day. Amen”
PS None of what I have said in this blog is meant to make you feel inadequate or to add to your ever increasing To Do list as a busy mom or dad. You may find your house a mess, your nerves frazzled and barely enough time to get dressed in the mornings, yet you can still welcome Jesus and others. Remember what Jesus and your guests want most is
I do welcome you into this day. I’m not sure yet what this day will entail, but I know that you do. When I am tired, frustrated, worried, busy or excited and happy, remind me that you are with me. I can simply breathe your name in prayer and you are there. How can I welcome you today? Can I welcome you by welcoming others? You said that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for you. Can I sit for a moment and meditate on what you are saying in your Word? What you are saying TO ME through your Word, the Bible? Maybe I can take a verse with me in my pocket today to remember and think about as I go about my work. Oh that I would be more aware of your presence with me and give you thanks today. Show me how I can use the small, teachable moments that you give me with my kids too. I want them to have an awareness of your presence too as they go through their day. Thank you for hearing and listening to my prayer. Amen
* When you have guests, set out trays or baskets with items that are readily accessible such as mugs, tea bags, coffee pods or other drinks in the kitchen.
* In the bathroom, it could be towels, hand lotion, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
* Smells are welcoming – cookies in the oven, a scented candle burning or in the summer, a window open letting in fresh air can create a homey touch.
* Most of all, sit with your guest. Enjoy their company and LISTEN! Remember
your guests don’t come to see your perfectly put together house, they come to see you and enjoy your friendship.
* Say a quick prayer as you get out of bed in the morning. Remember to be thankful.
* Ask Jesus to direct your day and help you be more aware of His presence. Ask Him to help you find/make time to be sit in His presence and then snatch those moments.
* Read a Bible verse or listen to a short devotional – many devotionals are in the form of a short podcast now so that you can listen as you drive or work.
* Write out a Bible verse to carry with you all week in your pocket. Pull it out when you need encouragement or just to remind you of God’s presence.
* Take moments throughout the day to breathe quick prayers.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR CHILD THIS WEEK?
SHARE A STORY: Mary Welcomed Jesus – Matthew 1:20-24, Luke 1:26-28
One day Mary had a special visitor. An angel came to tell Mary some happy news. (Say, “Happy news! Yeah!“) The angel said, “Mary, you are going to have a very special baby. (Pretend to rock a baby.) Your baby will be God’s own Son. You are to name Him Jesus.” God wanted Mary to be Jesus, mommy. He was giving her a very special baby, Jesus, God’s very own Son. Mary said, “Yes!“ to welcoming Jesus. She said, “Yes!“ to what God wanted her to do. She was happy for such good news. (Say, “Good news! Yeah!“)
Later Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. It was a long trip and Mary got tired. Still she loved God and listened to Him. She was ready to welcome Jesus into the world and into her heart.
Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Mary took good care of Jesus. She wrapped Him in soft cloths or blankets. She made sure He was fed and loved. Even as Jesus grew, Mary loved and cared for HIm. Mary was watching when Jesus died on the cross. She saw Jesus after He raised from death and she continued to love and welcome Jesus in her heart after He went back to heaven in the clouds.
Just like Mary, we can say, “Yes, God, I will do what you want me to do.” and we can welcome Jesus. Jesus wants to be our forever friend. We welcome Jesus by praying, thanking Him, listening to what our Bible says and telling Him we love Him and are happy He is with us. We welcome Jesus into our lives by asking Him to forgive us and be our forever friend. We welcome Jesus by simply remembering that He is with us everyday and thanking Him that He is with us.
MEMORIZE TOGETHER: Psalm. 59:17 ERV – (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)
You are – (Clap hands.)
The God – (Point upwards.)
Who loves me – (Give self a hug.)
SHARE A PRAYER:
Thank you for loving me. I want you to forgive me and be my forever friend Thank you for my family who takes good care of me.. Help me to remember to love and welcome you everyday. Amen
KNOW: Mary welcomed Jesus.
TALK ABOUT: How Jesus loves us.
ASK: Who loves you? God loves me.
AND DO: I can welcome Jesus.
MORE FUN IDEAS:
* God gave His very best gift, Jesus. Think of some ways that you can share love by giving or helping someone with your preschooler. When we help others, we are welcoming Jesus.
* Thank God for Jesus and welcome Him into your day together with your preschooler.
“Jesus, I know you are my friend. I welcome you today. Help me to remember that you are with me and love you with all my heart. Amen