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Once upon a time, in a church far, far away from any church we’ve ever attended, there was a small band of Christians who met together every Sunday to worship God.

These regular assemblies were conducted faithfully for many years, but without any change in the people who were occupying the seats.

One day, one of the members of this small band of Christians made the observation that if they wanted their church to grow, they needed to do more than unlock the doors and turn on the lights; they needed to invite their neighbors and friends.

So they did. John and Jane Doe were among those who received an invitation to this assembly and they decided to accept the invitation.

Not wanting to arrive late, John and Jane arrived early and sat on the third pew from the back. Shortly after getting settled, a lady approached their pew and just stood at the end of their aisle looking at them. John Doe rose to his feet to greet this woman whom he thought was wanting to get acquainted, only to hear her tersely say, “This is my seat. You’re sitting in my seat.” Embarrassed, John and Jane Doe apologized, gathered their things and moved to another pew, only to have this same scenario play out once again.

Now bewildered, embarrassed, and more than a little hurt, John and Jane Doe, afraid of sitting in yet another person’s seat, gathered their belongings and exited the building, never to return again. As for this little band of Christians, they continue to assemble each Sunday, sitting in their pew; their “own pew;” the pew they value more than a soul.

**Dear Lord, forgive us for our shortsightedness, our misplaced priorities, and bless us with so many visitors eager to study and worship, that none of us get to sit in “our own pew.”