A smile is a good place to start.
|Image Source: Yingchou Han|
I have been living in Bethlehem for a month and a half. Naturally, every other person has asked me how I have been enjoying my time here so far.
My first response is always to express how welcome I have felt from the first moment that I entered this community
I have spent some time considering this response. Is it something that I have been saying to make people feel good about the way that they have treated me or is it a genuine feeling?
Moving to a new place is daunting. The community that I have entered into has a long history of relationships that have been in place for a long time. Trust has been earned and friendships have been built. Most communities are comfortable with what they know and they do not want new people to come in and upset the apple cart.
It is natural to worry about whether you are going to be welcomed into a community that already has strong bonds in place. I have no doubt that the Bethlehem community had their own concerns about a new minister coming in and possibly altering the status quo.
However, not once have I felt excluded or shunned as a new member of this community. It might sound cliche, but I have realised what has made me feel so welcomed from the first moment that I arrived: a smile.
I know that smiling people are not unique to the Bethlehem community, but over the past couple of weeks, I have been greeted by warm, smiling people in abundance. There is something special about being on the receiving end of a genuine, heartfelt smile. It calms nerves and invites one into a sincere relationship.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbour, whether or not we know them or like them. Often we wonder how we are meant to love someone that we do not know or like. I believe that a smile is a good place to start."Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."- Mother Theresa
I have experienced God's grace in abundance through the welcoming smiles from people in the Bethlehem community.
"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face."
- Proverbs 15:13a