Filed under: charity, church, family, Minnesota, Music | Tags: children, Christ, family, God, hymn, Minnesota, politics, South Africa, southwestern minnesota, welcome
I was raised in a house and a church where all were welcome. Because of that I still have no problems with hosting and talking to people of different backgrounds and beliefs. I have been known to avoid conflict with those who are “intense” in their belief and have a hard time understanding those who call “hateful” anyone who does not believe exactly what they believe. Because of my beliefs and upbringing I was really shocked when I heard of a church group that was banning the hymn “All Are Welcome” from their church.
When our church home suffered a fire and was a year in rebuilding, we used this hymn as a promise of what we were doing and what was to come. When I traveled to South Africa a year ago with a group from Southwestern Minnesota, we used this hymn as a bridge between cultures and a promise of unity for all believers. I have used the sentiments of this hymn to argue for the inclusion of women as pastors and the inclusion of gay/ lesbian members of our community into our church. I am a firm believer that all are welcome in Christ’s church.
My firm belief is founded in the actions of Christ himself. When Jesus walked this earth he was not found with the churchgoing folks of his time, but with those most reviled and downcast. He walked with the lepers and ate with prostitutes. He called the tax collector, fisherman, prostitute and all others who were not welcome in the church of his day to follow him.
It is hard to be all welcoming. As fallen creatures we are prone to want to be with those who are most like us, especially if we are living comfortable lives. We separate into “us and them” groups to help ourselves cope with the hugeness of differences in this world. To welcome all would make us feel less important. Some do manage to live out their lives with their warped convictions intact, others do not.
When I was growing up, I remember an individual who was constantly voicing their feelings about those they despised the most. The rants about the divorced, those living together without being married and above all gay/lesbian people were frequent. For this individual, karma is a bitch. As their children grew up, one married a divorced person, another moved in with a person of the opposite gender and never married, and the last has come out of the closet as gay/lesbian. They were taught one relationship at a time to love those they had once despised.
The lessons we are taught are not always that personal. I do indeed hope that you are not so warped to be one of the haters in this world. We are called to live in a world of God’s grace, God’s inclusiveness. How can we love God and His son Jesus if we are not welcoming to all. I’m going to end with the first verse from the hymn “All Are Welcome” by Marty Haugen, I encourage you to look up the hymn and check out the other verses as you contemplate your place in God’s world.
“Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions; All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”
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