Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Romans 15:7-13 (NRSV)
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name”;
and again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him”;
and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How many of you have read the words, “ALL are welcome” when you have entered the doors of the church or looked at the bulletin as you sat in the pew? Did you take a moment to look around to see the diversity within your church? Or, did you see the faces of many who look a lot like you?
What would you do, honestly, if a person experiencing homelessness, wreaking of the odors of the streets came in and sat next to you in worship? Or, a same-sex couple walked in and sat in front of you with his or her arm around their significant other during worship? Or, an 80-year-old came to the contemporary worship service when it was full of youth and families?
Some of you can honestly say that ALL are truly welcome in God’s sanctuary. Others, when honest, have issues with welcoming anyone different from our own beliefs, economic status, race, age or the numerous other reasons we use to justify ourselves.
The scripture today tells us that God is glorified when we welcome everyone. Christ preached and taught Jews and Gentiles alike about God’s redeeming love and grace. We are called to do the same in order that God might be glorified. We, as Christians, are responsible for promoting this truth in God.
When we can welcome all people, then, and only then, are we also able to be filled with the hope and love that is modeled through Jesus Christ and given to us through the Holy Spirit. Think about your church. Are you a welcoming church?
Compassionate God, how marvelous is your creation! For we know all are created in your image. As your children who have experienced so much grace in our lives, help us to be accepting of one another, to celebrate the diversity among us, as you have commanded us to do. Forever in your care, Amen.
Go with God!