Welcome: a good place to begin.

by susan on January 4, 2019

We have celebrated the coming of Christ into the world & the start of a new year together. Now what?

According to the gospel of Matthew, after the birth of Jesus, a lot happened. For starters, King Herod caught wind of the news. A baby had been born and wise men were referring to him as the “King of the Jews”. He was the king, so naturally this news set him on edge. Not just him, but “all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3). Fear tends to breed fear & it tends to fuel violence, too.

So, how does Herod react to this unexpected news?

Like many fear-driven political leaders, he starts scheming. He has to stay in control & on top of things. He has to protect his power & his interests. At first, he meets with these men & then he sends them as spies to meet this so-call-king-of-the-Jews. When they choose the way of welcome vs. being part of his scheme, Herod resorts to violence. He begins to slaughter every newborn baby boy born around Bethlehem. Killing innocent babies is of no consequence to power-hungry political tyrants. Maintaining what’s “ours” at all costs is what counts.

Fear is certainly one way to respond to the unexpected & untimely ways Christ comes to us.

Welcome is another.

Welcome has been a primary part of the formation of God’s people from the beginning. Welcoming strangers, dreams, new directions & new rhythms of life has been at the heart of their identity. Was it difficult? Of course! Yet, time & time again, those who claim to be children of God were called to embrace change, to move with the Spirit & to embrace the other. That didn’t change with the coming of Christ; in fact, it only becomes more obvious & more important – especially given that Christ arrives as a stranger (not an insider) from a place of unimportance.

Welcome has been & will always be at the heart of how we practice the way of Jesus.

As we welcome a new year & begin moving through the gospel of Matthew together, we’re exploring the ways we are invited to receive & practice welcome instead of feasting on & being fuel-ers (is that a word?) of fear. We’re beginning this Sunday (January 6th) by sharing food & welcome with families in our community who have been impacted by war & violence. We’re sharing brunch with local refugee families & hoping to foster meaningful conversation & connection- we’re hoping to make them feel welcome, wanted & an equally important part of the community. We’d love for you to join us at 10:30 a.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum. You can bring a brunch dish to share or just show up – there tends to be enough.

Throughout the rest of the month, we are welcoming & blessing a new baby & exploring what it means to welcome new expressions of faith, new dreams & new directions.

And, speaking of welcome, it’s not only at the heart of the biblical story, but it’s also at the heart of who we are as a faith community. We welcome, value & include everyone – imperfectly, yes, but we are trying our best. We welcome those who are doubting or believing, searching or struggling, married or single, just out of prison or living on the street. We welcome those who are straight or gay or somewhere in between, those who are skeptical or scared or “over” church or those who are ready to jump right in.

Wherever or whoever you are, we’d love to welcome you.

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