What does it mean to be welcomed? What does it mean to be accepted? How are they the same or different. Think of a time when you have been welcomed. What does welcome feel like? Were there particular words or actions that helped you to feel welcomed? Does being welcomed change how you think, feel and behave in a particular setting, and if so, how? Now reflect on a time when you have felt accepted.
These questions have been rolling around in my head as I've reflected on this Sunday's scripture reading from Romans 15:7-13. In The Message Interpretation of the Bible, this scripture reading begins: So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!" The Message, Common English Bible and NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) all use the language of welcome in this first verse. But turning to the NIV (New International Version), this verse is translated: "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
So I'm wondering about the relationship of welcome and acceptance. Especially as I reflect on our congregation's core value of practicing extravagant welcome.
Within our community here in Loveland, we have a significant population of people who are experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness. Among them are children and youth. Their families may have doubled up with relatives or another family in order to have a roof over their heads. They might be living out of a trailer, car, motel or tent. Among the homeless youth in our community there are those who do not have an adult in their lives who is caring for them. These neighbors of ours are among the most vulnerable in our community. Before they can experience either welcome or acceptance, they need to have a basic sense of safety, security and stability.
On Thursday evening, April 28th, there will be a public meeting to address homelessness at First United Presbyterian Church here in Loveland. At this meeting, we have the power to collectively work for safety, security and stability for our unhoused neighbors, especially unaccompanied youth. I hope to see you there!
In love and peace,