What does it look like to be a genuine welcoming gospel community? What does it look like to invite others to your dining table in an expression of genuine hospitality
Certainly – as Walter Brueggemann and Sanetta Ponton highlight – it means facing our prejudices and ensuring “people not like us” are invited to our tables.
Walter Brueggemann writes: “The new thing emerging among us is in the church is a multiethnic, multicultural, multiracial, multi-gendered culture in which old privileges and positions of power are placed in deep jeopardy.”
In such a culture, Brueggemann reminds us, we have a fairly simple choice.
We can see others [people not like us] as a threat, a rival enemy, a competitor, or we can embrace the “other” as the Gospel does – a neighbour to be generously welcomed into community, modelling a God of extravagant welcome.
“In the [gospel] community, there are no second-class citizens,” Brueggemann writes.
If we are to live out such a reality, we still have much to do.
Many women, people of colour and people from other ethnicities tell me that often they don’t feel genuinely welcomed, listened to and embraced in their faith communities.
We have to be honest with ourselves. We can say we are genuinely welcoming of all people – and then from our pulpits, platforms and policies we highlight that we don’t back our words with actions.
And Brueggemann writes: “And now, the time has come to face the same gospel reality about LGBTQI persons.”
Will the Church model a generous welcome for LGBTQI persons, or will we be satisfied to apply second class Kingdom citizenship?
Sanetta Ponton in a recent talk I was privileged to hear, spoke of the importance of followers of Jesus practicing humility, intentionality and the embracing of diversity. She added that churches can tell themselves they have “ticked the diversity box” or they can intentionally ensure minority voices are genuinely welcomed to the table.
If we put out a welcome mat in our faith communities, is that a welcome to all – particularly those who are different to us or the majority in that community? We all know when a welcome is genuine or not.
Welcoming God, may I keep learning and practicing the wonder of the Gospel welcome … for the sake of everyone, especially those not like me!