I recently came across a statement from Marcus Harrison Green, “There is a significant difference between ‘all are welcome here’ and ‘this was created with you in mind.’”
How true this is. Imagine a building with a sign above the door, “All are welcome here,” but there are stairs leading up to the door and no wheelchair access anywhere. Clearly this space was not created with certain people in mind, and no amount of “all are welcome” signs will truly make it a welcoming place. This is a more obvious example, but there are a thousand big and small ways that we put out “All are Welcome” signs without doing the work to create actual spaces of welcome.
But, whew, it can take work. In order to welcome and serve all, we must be people who are willing to learn, to be challenged and to risk finding out we’re wrong. We must be a community that is willing to be vulnerable and who embrace the vulnerability of others. We must be a community that seeks to create courageous spaces, where we each are able to show up fully as themselves. And we must be a community that seeks repentance - Did we mess up? Do we have big blinders on in certain areas? Did we hurt someone? We are a community of repentance and forgiveness!
We have been disrupted this last year from all that we had become accustomed to and from our ways of doing worship. As we slowly return to in-person worship, these are the questions I invite us to consider: What do we hope to create in our sanctuary space? Who do we hope to be as a community? We are drawn together by God, celebrating grace, serving all. Who is the all? Do we have them in mind as we reach out for our next steps as the body of Christ? Who are the neighbors of Lutheran Church of Hope? As we return to our sanctuary, are we creating a space with them in mind?
So People of Hope, who is God calling to your mind, asking you to consider how we can be a Church for them?