How deep is your church's welcome?
'Behaviourally inclusive' brought to mind an occasion years ago in New Jersey when I was asked as a single man (not then being widely known as a recently partnered gay man) to join a panel discussing the congregation's outreach to various segments of the community and to involve those already members to more fully participate in programs offered.Hiding in plain sight
These were the heady days of 'inclusive' — when the term, seen as politically correct, had a load of baggage I cared not to embrace. Nonetheless, I found myself using it with respect to behavior, how the members of those myriad groups within the congregation could include single folks more by how they acted than by how effusively they welcomed the same at the door. A 'zone of welcome', if you will, that opens its borders wide to truly (here’s that word) include, rather than exist at the door for form, yet which truly acts as a buffer to reinforce the existing 'in'.
'Words of Welcome to everyone present', what a refreshing change to 'Would visitors stand and. . .' There are enough places, enough time for differences. The Eucharist need not be one of them!
I enjoyed the editorial about visiting. (link) I just moved back to a new church where I had been a member nine years ago, so I knew what I was getting in to. It's a very cold and closed place. I was inspired to write this column for my previous church newsletter, of which I am still the editor.The invisables
'At [Dives’s] gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores'. (Luke 16:19)
When Dives strutted out of his gate, he probably chose to make Lazarus invisible. When we examine our consciences about 'the invisibles' in our life, we usually think of street people, like Lazarus. We may have been guilty of making people invisible. We at St. James are greatly favored in that we are very seldom treated as invisibles in our world.
How do you treat your siblings-in-Christ in church on Sunday? Do you look around for your friends and jump ’em like a duck on a June bug after the service and carry on intense conversations? And are strangers invisible to you?
Or do you look around the church for people who are strangers to you and jump on them and make them welcome, really welcome, after the service?
St. James is one of the friendliest churches I've ever attended. It's pretty good — but that’s not good enough. Look for 'the invisibles', folks just like you, friends you haven't met yet — and greet them after church.
'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'. (Hebrews 13:2)