The once ubiquitous “All Are Welcome” sign has become disdained in many church circles. It is not that churches do not wish to welcome all people. The tension is between the desire and the execution. Churches often welcome all who are able to fit in. In the light of “the way we’ve always done it,” clearly not all are welcome.
What if the new vogue in church signs were “We See with Christ’s Eyes”? This assertion indicates that the church takes Paul’s words to the Corinthians seriously. Because of everything that has happened before—Creation, covenant keeping, Incarnation, Resurrection, and the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit—this church sees all people through Christ-tinted glasses.
A church living up to this sign would hold its traditions and habits lightly. It would create new ways when the old ones cause harm or limit the church’s ability to share love and power. The people of the congregation would see themselves as a new generation of apostles sent out into the world to see Christ in others and returning every week for prayer, renewal, and to share stories of the new creation.
In this beloved community, no one is considered from a human perspective but in the light of divine love. People are accepted for who they say they are. Good boundaries are established and kept. Honesty is valued, encouraged, and praised. No one grieves alone. Forgiveness abounds and reparations are respected as necessary.
All things are possible with God. Further, the foundation for this new creation has already been laid. If we want to mean “All Are Welcome,” then we have to demonstrate how we see all people through Christ’s eyes.
God of unity in diversity, help me to see others through Christ’s eyes. Enable me to love and welcome all people as you have loved and welcomed me in Christ. Amen.
Lent is a time for focusing on our need for God and for remembering God’s abundant resources for filling that need. When the Israelites finally pass into Canaan, they observe the Passover as a reminder of God’s deliverance of them from Egypt. The psalmist, traditionally David, rejoices in the fact that God does not count his sins against him. Paul declares that through Christ, God has made everything new. God no longer holds our sins against us, and we in turn appeal to others to accept this free gift. Jesus eats with sinners and tells the story of the prodigal son to demonstrate that no matter how far we stray, God will always welcome us home with open arms. God never stops pursuing us, even if we feel unloved or unworthy.
Read Joshua 5:9-12. What stories do you tell about your faith? What do these stories help you remember?
Read Psalm 32. When have you hidden from God? When has God been your hiding place?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. We are ambassadors for Christ. How does your life display for others that life in Christ eliminates worldly identity labels?
Read Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. Do you identify with the prodigal son, the elder son, or the father in the parable? Are you ready to rejoin God’s household on God’s terms? Are you ready to welcome everyone home?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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