I’ll never forget my experience when I first started worshipping at my church. I joined the choir almost immediately because I love making music with others. Within a week or two of my initial appearance with the choir, an older woman decided to leave the congregation. Even though nothing had changed in this congregation except the complexion of the choir (and a minimal change at that), everything had changed, at least for this woman and her friends. For no longer could she pretend that everyone was welcome in “her” church. “They” had their own churches, she said. Why didn’t they just worship there?
Yes, as long as designations like “them” and “us” reside in our hearts and heads, as long as our churches recognize the “insiders” but shun the “outsiders,” then we must ask ourselves whether we are being true to the compassionate hospitality that Jesus himself practiced.
As we lean into the ways of God and seek to be faithful to God’s radically inclusive vision, may the circles of our inclusion continue to expand outward until the whole world lives under the umbrella of God’s all-encompassing love.
This message was adapted from “Breaking the Rules” by Gladys G. Moore that appeared in the January/February 2011 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. Take a look at Women of the ELCA’s free downloadable resource “God Colors Outside the Lines” to see how diversity is a gift from God.