All Are Welcome

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,the new creation has come…All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-28

Here is an interesting article about an incident that happened to a biracial teenager in the tiny Wisconsin village (population 66!) where I grew up in on the Mississippi River. That community, including my parents, have rallied around this young person and made public statements of welcome to those who may need to know they will be treated with respect in those communities and businesses.

The last few weeks, we’ve been talking about what it means for “all” to be welcome at First, and this article features a business owner who in order to show welcome for some, tells others they will not be welcome if they bring hate and racism to others there. It’s an interesting thing for a church community to discuss and debate too. “If we welcome all… will all feel welcome?”, or do we need to make statements that show that people will be treated with respect while they are in our community.

I also noticed that this is in the “Social Justice” section of this publication. This weekend we heard partisan politicians disparage social justice, and therefore stories like this one. When social justice becomes a wedge political issue and Christians feel pressured to distance themselves from it, we do so at our own moral and ethical peril. Saying you are against social justice as a Christian is like telling the world that you don’t care about the things Jesus cared about. We may not like what all people do under the banner of “social justice” but caring about justice for all people and making our communities places where all God’s children live in freedom and with equality is definitely a Christ and Bible-inspired effort. That’s how I define social justice and how I try to live my life as a Christian leader and I hope that is how you do as well, whether or not you call it social justice. As I preached about last week, we are called to look at the world with prophetic eyes and holding up a mirror like Jeremiah did to those in Jerusalem, so that we can see the reality of where we fall short, as well as share the promise of what we can be a part of the more we live into the promises and love of Christ’s kingdom!

In this story, we see what even small social actions for justice can mean in the life of a young woman when something that was intended for harm led to a new experience of faith and abundant life in her new community. I think of Joseph’s words to his brother, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done” (Gen 50:20 NIV).

In Jesus, we are invited into re-creation stories like these. And the more we claim them and the more we experience the joy of this re-creation, the more we experience the living and dynamic presence of Jesus in our lives. Only God can turn what is intended to harm, into healing. Only God can turn mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). That is why we participate in speaking up for others and sharing love through justice. God wants us to be in that work that leads us into the joyful dance with all people and all nations. And in this dance we should always follow Christ’s lead!

Read the article HERE.