These hugs were especially nice because my family was out of town and I was alone that Sunday. It reminded me of the fact that we have many people who worship every Sunday by themselves. One of the greatest things you can do as a Christian is to hug a widow or widower when they come into the church building. They need affection and they miss it. A kind smile and a friendly hug is a welcome gift to a person who deals with loneliness.
After I got those hugs from Paige and Alex, a lot of things didn't matter anymore. It did not matter if I said everything perfectly in the pulpit. It did not matter if I was going to sit alone or eat lunch alone after services. It did not matter that I was tired and it did not matter how other people treated me for the rest of the day. A display of unconditional affection reminds you of your value. People need other people who simply love them for being themselves - who care about them just because of who they are.
I want to say to Micah and Gretchen Grenz, and the Nathaneal and Casey Meadows (and to all of our young couples with children), thank you for bringing your beautiful children to Willow. Thank you for teaching them about God. Thank you for sharing these wonderful kids with us. They make our congregation better and our building a better place. They remind us to be pure, and think positiviely, and to encourage each other with kind words, warm smiles, and powerful hugs.
"But Jesus said, '