This last week, I shared something in my sermon that has been sticking with me. It is that extravagant welcome is: "The kind of welcome that does not simply say, 'Come. Be one of us.' But that instead says, 'Come. Who you are will change who we are because you are part of us and we are part of you.'"
Perhaps you've noticed that a lot has changed in our congregation over the last few years. We got a new minister 3 1/2 years ago, and that was a big change. But other things have changed, too. The order of service gets changed up a bunch in worship. We've cycled through a number of different youth leaders (volunteer and paid). We weren't able to gather for almost a year and a half, and then when we started gathering again, things had changed. We became Open and Affirming. We lost members due to deaths, moves, changing needs, and theological differences. And we gained new members through births and through people finding our congregation and settling here as their faith home.
Change is hard -- even when the changes are good. Even when we have been wanting these changes for some time. Along with change come grief (even when the change is good!) and often conflict -- even if it's just our internal conflict that says "I should feel excited about this, why do I feel sad?"
But if we are truly to live into our core value of extravagant welcome, then change will become a constant for us -- for whenever we welcome new people into our midst, we will change as we become part of them and they become part of us.
As I reflect on this coming week's Core Value, Ministry of All Believers, I've realized that extravagant welcome and ministry of all believers really go together. When we are willing to be changed by one another, then we can step into ministry together -- honoring, celebrating and receiving one another's gifts. And when we feel welcomed and seen, we can more readily bring our gifts to our shared ministry.
Sunday is also Mother's Day. I want to acknowledge that Mother's Day is complicated. We each experience it differently depending on our own relationship to mothering, motherhood and our own mother figures. I hope wherever you find yourself this Mother’s Day, whether grieving or celebrating, thankful or feeling unfulfilled, you will feel welcomed, seen and honored in our worship together.
In love and peace,