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    Sermon Before the Sermon  

from a church bulletin, Author Unknown 

     When anyone walks thru the doors of our church, before he hears a message he should feel one. If they feel that message, they will be more likely to hear the one we call "the sermon". Many a sermon has fallen on deaf ears because of the absence of the first message, that of loving acceptance. We are surrounded by a sea of hurting people who are afraid to share their hurts, and do not know where to go for help. They slip in among us hoping not to be noticed, but crying out on the inside for someone who understands and loves them.

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    Some feel like a nobody because that is the way they have been treated. Others feel trapped in what seems to be unbearable circumstances, and quietly slip in among us for a brief moment of escape hoping to hear something that will give them just enough hope to face one more day. When you enter the church whisper a prayer to the father that he would make you sensitive to those around you. That your presence would be an encouragement to someone. That your warm handshakes and friendly smile would send a message of loving acceptance to a hurting heart. 

This from Westmont Baptist Church bulletin,  July 22, 1990