Where we are all welcome at the table of God.
As The Practicing Church, we are currently going through the gospel of Luke and we see this theme of hospitality and welcome over and over again. In fact the life and ministry of Jesus can be seen as a divine "visitation" to the world, seeking hospitality. A story of One who came as visitor and guest who then becomes host and offers a hospitality in which the entire world can become truly human, be at home, and know salvation in the depths of their hearts. That all would know the extravagant love of God and the scandalous grace that Jesus offered.
This past week I came across this wonderful NPR article about welcome, acceptance and grace that inspired me. And it made me laugh. Which is important too. We have to keep our sense of humor.
But I do think it is more important now than ever to offer the grand welcome of God -- especially when there are so many messages against.
Against the refugee, the Muslim, those of different race or color or gender or sexuality or socio-economic status. It is important to say, You are welcome. You are all welcome. The message of this kingdom of love is for everyone. Jesus made that clear and was always offending the religious people of his day by his scandalous welcome, eating and drinking with the riff raff, the poor, the drunks, the prostitutes, the disabled, the sick, the disenfranchised, and the tax collectors, just modern day bullies and thieves. And so if this is who Jesus welcomed. And if He welcomes me in all of my brokenness and depravity.
Then I believe that now is the time to proclaim the wide scope of God's grace and welcome for all people.
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down-at-heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers. We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You're welcome here if you're just browsing, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don't care if you're more Christian than Pope Francis or haven't been to church since Christmas 10 years ago. 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, football dads, CrossFit fanatics, starving artists, tree huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, and junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you whether you have lived here for a week, a year or a lifetime, whether you speak Spanish, Amharic, Korean, Vietnamese, or Tigrinya, whether you have light skin or dark, whether you wear a baseball hat or a hijab, whether you have a hankering for tortillas, injera, samosas or hotdogs. We welcome you if you're having problems, are down in the dumps or don't like organized religion. We're not that keen on it either. We offer welcome to those who think the Earth is flat, work too hard, don't work, can't spell, or are here because Granny is visiting and wanted to come to church. We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither.
We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids or who had a run in with google maps and wound up here by mistake. We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters and you.
▪ English Cathedral Welcomes Visitors with Unexpected Message. January 15, 2017. NPR. Author unknown. A few words have been altered to fit our context.
by Jessica Ketola