Herald Journal Columns
March 17, 2003
Pastor's Column

Atmosphere around us is more important than you think

By Rev. Julie Malone, Mt. Hermon Lutheran Church, Annandale

The Atmosphere Around You is More Important Than You Might Think!

The Christian strategy, someone has said, is to gather the folks, break the bread, and tell the stories.

As a pastor, I could say that that is my job description in a nutshell. And, to be sure, it is the job description of all Christians ­ the priesthood of all believers ­ to gather, teach, and be in communion with one another.

Simple? Yes! But not as easy as it seems.

Inviting others to gather at your church is not always something we are chomping at the bit to do. Neither is sitting someone down to teach them the stories of Jesus and His love that we know so well and believe in with all of our heart.

And what about inviting them to come to the Lord's Table with you? Well, that's something that seems so personal that we just bow our heads and leave it up to them.

So, how can we, as Christians, fulfill our God-given responsibilities without having to jump so far out of our comfort zones? How can we tell others of the love of Jesus without needing a theological seminary degree? Very simply ­ by creating the right atmosphere around us ­ a Christ-like atmosphere.

We have all met people who maintain a "Woe is me" atmosphere, while others have laughter and encouragement as their trademark "atmosphere."

Any of us can walk into a church, a home, a restaurant, or a business and sense immediately what its atmosphere is. The atmosphere we are sensing is something that was created, either consciously or subconsciously, by the people in it.

Jesus created an atmosphere by letting children run to him, rather than demanding that they stay quietly at their parent's sides, by speaking openly to women who formerly had been shunned, by expressing emotions, and asking questions He established an atmosphere of openness and love ­ an atmosphere that was very different from the one established by the religious leaders of that time.

People gathered to Him by the thousands to be in His loving and accepting presence and hear His stories.

Every deed we do has a ripple effect that either invites people to jump in, because the water's fine, or warns them in no uncertain terms to stay in their place ­ outsiders are not welcome. Our attitudes, actions and words create an atmosphere around us.

In this Lenten season, a time of reflection, ask yourself these questions:

· What kinds of words and behaviors are encouraged around you?

· What energy do people feel and notice when they walk into your home, your workplace, your church?

· What words do people you are in relationship with use to describe you?

Ask God to help you nurture a Christ-like atmosphere. Take time in these reflective days of Lent to be conscious of the atmosphere you create every day for those around you, through your words, actions, and attitudes.


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