Have you ever talked with someone who is visiting your congregation about how they felt about their visit?  I once asked someone that question and they shared with me the difference they felt between what they deemed as a “warm” church and “cold” church. That has always stuck with me. Now I always wonder if people feel warm or cold when they visit. I’ve even been known to finish up my coffee in my pew prior to the beginning of the service just to make it more homey. (Apparently in the Evergreen Circuit this is just common practice.) My prayer, regardless of how those visitors feel about their surroundings, is that their heart is warmed —either then and there or later as the Holy Spirit sees fit. 

One of the “warmest” places I know is among the women of LWMS (and the men who love them) at their fall and spring rallies. The more rallies I have the privilege to visit the more that warmth grows in my heart. It’s a unique opportunity to see so many dedicated, heartfelt individuals throughout the country who put hours into planning, who encourage, educate, and pray about missions and missionaries, and who financially support God’s work in their region as well as in places they cannot go. Each circuit brings its distinctive warmth to their rallies be it special table decorations, traveling trophies, welcome kits, skits, or local foods—many different ways to accomplish the same purpose.

Of course, the warmest part of those special rally days is the heart-warming accounts shared with all of us by individuals who have experienced the power of sins forgiven as it is shared in WELS mission fields. Sometimes, those stories are about people, names and faces—our newest brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes those stories are about places, bedroom communities and large cities—locations that need to hear more about Christ. Sometimes those stories are about opportunities, people groups and online communities—new ways to share more about Christ. 

What a privilege to be able to work with all of you in this community of Christians for whom warmth is not just a feeling you get or a type of hospitality, but for whom warmth comes from the knowledge of sins forgiven and the privilege of sharing that knowledge and peace with those around us and around the world. Blessings as you continue to share this at your rallies and in your service to HIM.