This is the first thing I saw when I entered the doors of a local Old Navy store this afternoon. As you walk into the story, there are several smiling fake people of different ages and skin color wearing new clothes (see picture above.) It struck me as funny because they each had identical facial expressions - all smiles.
We all know that this isn't how life works. We don't all experience life in the same way. Some of us might be smiling when we go to church because we are in a celebratory mode because of a special sense of God's presence and love in our lives.
But we also might enter church with heavy hearts; the loss of a loved one, an upcoming surgery, a friend who has let us down, the loss of a job, etc. To put a big smile on our face when going through such times, just to have the right "church look," isn't what God expects of us. God just wants us to come to church the way we are...happy, sad, troubled, elated, worried, expectant.
When people enter a church building, they may see all kinds of expressions, not just smiles. But that's OK. People don't have to all have the same look. The beautiful thing about the church is that the invitation to gather for worship is open to all people and one doesn't need to bring a certain look to be welcomed and accepted.
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30