Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who To Welcome?

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
(Romans 15:7)

Several weeks ago our Minister of Music and Worship Arts shared a blog with me that was so profound that it was simply too good not to pass on. It was about the importance of God’s church learning to welcome all people. Welcoming others in the name of Christ doesn’t mean that we have to agree with their beliefs, values, or behaviors. But it does mean that we offer them respect and hospitality just as Jesus did for all people who he met.

Within the blog was a poster seen at a church that described this kind of radical hospitality and welcome that we’re to imitate:

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail, or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been to church since little Joey’s Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, or you’re down in the dumps, or if you don’t like ‘organized religion” - we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers, doubters, bleeding hearts… and you!”

[--From “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community”, cited in the Blog of Jon Acuff]

Wow! Those are tough words to live up to! But they describe an attitude that we are to offer to all people as God’s church, for -- in the words of Paul’s scripture above -- “just as Christ welcomed [us]… [we are to] welcome one another.” Dear Lord, may it be so among all the churches of God! Remember that He loves you and I do, too!

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