We have heard and we continue to hear and struggle with the biblical call to “extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13) and to “Welcome one another” (Romans 15:7) as God has welcomed each of us.
We are challenged and instructed by Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet where the king says to his servants: “Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet” (Matthew 22:7).
We therefore strive to extend a special welcome to all who gather here, seeing each person as one whom God loves dearly, and for whom Jesus died, and in whom the Holy Spirit is at work. And, seeking to put a face to the idea of “everyone,” we have worked to make the following welcome statement.
We welcome those who are familiar with the Bible, those who are not, young mothers and newborns at their breast, regardless of color or race, wealth, poverty, or if you no habla Ingles.
We welcome those who vote Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Green Party, junk food addicts, vegetarians, meat-lovers, the sleepy, the grouchy, the complainers, those full of doubts, disappointment, and confusion, short, tall, skinny, overweight, in shape or out of shape (stick figures are shapes too).
We welcome brothers and sisters more Lutheran than Martin himself, those who come from some other denomination of the one Church of Jesus Christ, especially those who had religion shoved down their throat or, who have never set foot in a church, and those who walked away from Holy Baptism and feel God’s call to “return to the Lord.”
We extend a special welcome to those who would like to sing with the choir, but even those who can’t carry a tune in a bucket are welcome; so are those recovering from a trauma, an addiction, a disappointment, traveling on vacation, in town on business and who have traveled a long way down some wrong road; welcome are those homosexually or heterosexually oriented, metrosexuals, asexuals, those who have perfectly smooth skin, calloused hands, tattoos, those with baggy jeans, people who like ties, have piercings, color their hair, or have lost their hair.
You are welcome if you’re searching for God’s grace, if you’re unsure about belonging, if you know that you’re a sinner and need forgiveness, if God is still working on you; if you drive a mini-van or a foreign-made truck; if you are recovering from an addiction or still trying to beat it; if you are married, single, divorced, old, young, a child who thinks you’re grown or an adult who has not yet “grown-up.”
We extend a special welcome to those who struggle with religion, those who still think the world is flat, or who think the sun revolves around the earth, think differently than us, those who work too hard, those who have lost their job, bad spellers, those who don’t ask for directions or don’t ever read the directions first, people who can’t read well at all, and those who still can’t program their VCR, let alone figure out all the new technology gadgets.
We welcome you if you need a prayer but don’t know what to say, if you fully understand this long message about Jesus’ radical welcome and hospitality, and if you can’t fully comprehend it—please know that we are still trying to grasp it too.
We welcome all these, in the name of Christ Jesus, and ……. YOU!