A number of years ago I was introduced to the concept of justice as a concept of, “how the world should be not how the world actually works.” I can’t say for sure if I had read that, or if it had come out from a conversation with my friend Don. So when I ran across the following quote, it jumped out at me:
Justice demands that all divisions be overcome by Christ’s love – division of economics, class, race, health, education, nationality, and religion. In addition, they insist that the Christian ethical vision includes environmental stewardship or creation care, suggesting that the divide between human nature has become a stranger to us – a stranger to be welcomed as part of God’s universal hospitality.
Universal hospitality. Welcoming all to God’s table. A river of justice.People’s History of Christianity, pg. 305
One of the things that has always bothered me about american Christianity is the bait and switch in most churches. Claiming all are welcome, when in reality, we only accept people if they are willing to change to our version of what people should be. I’ll never forget when I was a member of a church my wife and I attended in Grand Rapids Michigan when the staff sent a letter out to the parents of kids in the kids ministry. It was after former President Trump had been elected and he had signed something targeting LGBTQIA individuals. In short, the letter essentially said they were welcomed to the church still, but it was done so in a way that was incredibly othering and off-putting.
This is one of the things that jumps to my mind about welcoming all to God’s table. I have to actively quiet the voices in my head about how I’ve known it to be in the past, but hold it in tension so I do not make the same mistakes. People should never feel pressured to change who they are in order to feel welcomed (provided they are not actively harming others). In thinking about this and the hospitality from last week, I just wonder who much could change for the better when we stopped worrying about numbers in pews, and focused more on the practice of welcoming the stranger when the priority in that is ensuring they feely seen, heard, and welcomed.
Grace and peace everyone.