Friday, January 09, 2009

Extravagant Welcome

When a church, like, say, our church, says it has an extravagant welcome, and that everyone is truly welcome, no matter who we are or where we are on our faith journeys, the amazing thing is that people believe us. They come to us, looking for that extravagant welcome which is to supposed to be representative of God's love for each and all of us, and they bring their full, true selves.

The humbling thing is, sometimes we don't like what they bring, and wish they'd be different. They bring their smells, their travails, their bad prior choices, their bad ongoing choices, and their unrealistic expectations of who and what God/the church/the pastor is supposed to be and do for or with them. And we are so tempted to try to fix them up, to make them "respectable," or at least less embarrassing.

Thank God for reminding us that it's not our job to fix people, but to love them, unconditionally.* (And to marvel at the transformations that come from unconditional love.)

* "Unconditional love" does not equal "tolerating any kind of wretched or abusive behavior." That's not what I'm talking about in this post. You can look for me to talk about that in my "doormat for Jesus" spiel, which should be posted sometime after the upcoming "Viagra Sermon."

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