A Personal Message of Love and Welcome from Father Jon
Hello, this is Father Jon. Welcome! I love you and care about you. That’s why I’m so thankful that you are considering coming back to the “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church”.
If you come from an Anglican, Catholic, or Mainline Protestant background these words “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” are familiar to you. If you come from an Evangelical or Pentecostal background, these words may sound strange. However, they are the words of the Nicene Creed that was accepted universally by the ancient Christian Church: “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”.
Why People Leave The Church: Stories of Separation
For me– it was my parent’s divorce. I was angry with The Church for many years. I felt The Church had failed me.
My friend Mike told me that he was separated from The Church when an evangelist directed harsh words towards him and his girlfriend during an evangelistic meeting.
My friend Daniel shared that he grew tired of bearing the burden of church leadership. He was so hurt and tired that he gave up on The Church.
Many have told me that they are disillusioned with the “institutional” church. They feel little connection with its programs and productions.
I have also observed, first hand, that many are pulled away from The Church by the allure of the secular world.
Others merely wander away in the midst of a busy life filled with the cares and stresses of modern living. Often times, no one from The Church ever tells them that they are missed.
The most heartbreaking stories of separation are ones caused by an emotional or physical violation by a minister or church member.
What separated you? What is your story?
Christ Suffered With You
Whatever sufferings you have endured because, or on behalf, of The Church. Remember that Jesus suffered with you. He suffered with you on the Cross, and He suffered with you because you are a part of His Body– The Church. He feels your pain and knows your anguish. He also suffers because you are missing from His Church, and He is no longer whole because you are not with Him and the other parts His Body.
Our Father is Calling You Home to His Son- Jesus
Christ never intended us to be “Christians” by ourselves. Yet, there are so many “out of church” Christians. From God’s perspective an “out of church” Christian is akin to an “out of sea” Sea Otter. Just as the Sea Otter naturally belongs to the Sea; so the Christian supernaturally belongs to Christ’s Body– The Church.
The Way Home
Dear one, God loves you and so do I. The way back to The Church is as easy as coming home. In our parish church, we will love and accept you- just as you are! However, as you come, we'll love you too much to leave you where you are because God wants you to live forever. God wants you to have the best life possible. So as you come we'll lovingly challenge and encourage you with the holy word of God, in communion we'll spiritually feed and strengthen you with the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ, and together we'll journey into the eternal life of Jesus. So welcome home. God loves you. We love you. You belong here."
God loves you and misses you! He wants you to come home to the body of His Son- Jesus. So in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I ask you to forgive those who misrepresented The Church, who hurt you, and caused you to leave The Church. And in the name of the same triune God, I offer you forgiveness for any wrongs that you may have done to Christ's body– His Church– to which we all belong. Amen.
As the Prodigal Son returned to his father so I bless you to return to your mother– Christ’s Body– The Church. May you find joy, love, and peace on your journey home. Amen.