I continue to marvel at God’s love and grace given to us in the Incarnation of His Son. We had some wonderful celebrations of the Birth of Christ at St. Mary’s over Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. I don’t believe in that snarky “insider Church talk” evidenced by comments such as, “ As I was saying last Easter…” or, “We’re open between now and Easter…” To me, those kind of remarks only serve to alienate people or remind them that they don’t regularly attend. Great message: Hey – we know you hardly ever come so now that you’re here we’re going to rub it in…
At the beginning of our celebrations, this is a statement we read, based on a very similar one created by Bill Huebsch of pastoralplanning.com:
A Special Welcome to All who Have Come Today
It is Christ who welcomes all to share in this Feast today…no matter who you are, no matter where you are in the journey of faith, you are welcome here. Are you divorced? Are you married? Are you married for a second or third time? Are you lesbian or gay? Do you worry about your kids and their welfare?
Are you a single parent struggling to make ends meet?
Well if you are, then you belong to us because you belong to Christ.
Are you lonely? Are you disabled? Are a widow? Have you run out of luck? Are you unemployed? Are you living with shame? Do you struggle with addiction? Have you spent time in jail?
If so, then you belong to us because you belong to Christ.
Are you a newcomer in this parish? Are you a regular here, full of enthusiasm for the parish? Did you grow up in a different Christian tradition? Are you full of doubt? Has it been awhile since you’ve been to church? Well if this is true then you belong to us because you belong to Christ.
All people of good will are welcome here. If you are from a faith tradition other than Christianity, we welcome you. If you’ve been away, you can come back. If you’ve been living in darkness, you can come to the light. If you haven’t been able to believe without seeing him, look around: Christ is here today in his Body, the Church. Sinners are welcome. Saints are too.
Everyone is welcome in this place. Christ is the host here today. Christ sets this table of Word and Bread. And Christ welcomes all!
May God bless us during this Christmas Season and in the New Year with the blessed realization that we’re all in this thing together, and we’re all loved by our Creator, and redeemed. May we love more and judge less.