Monday, 12 March 2012

A welcome - for all God's children?

As a way of introducing the young folks to the gospel reading - Jesus clearing the temple of the pigeon sellers and money changers - yesterday, I spoke of welcome and posed the question: what makes you feel welcome when you come to "our" church on a Sunday morning?
Of course there were lots of positive comments - people spoke of feeling warmly welcomed and brought into fellowship.
As minister I suppose it is my job to view with a more critical eye what others might perceive. What about when the camaraderie among team members feels slightly exclusive to one who is not "on the team"? What about when there are so many folk standing around chatting, obviously comfortable with each other that they obscure the way in - and the offering plate - for those unfamiliar with the layout? What about the untidy piles of leaflets scattered everywhere - there for the taking but with little rhyme or reason?
And what about the ticket sellers for all the various church events - albeit opportunities to enhance fellowship?
As I pondered these things, I also mused on the folks, many of whom are still there, who commissioned and built the sanctuary in which we now gather. What were their hopes and dreams and aspirations? In that hopeful time of building and of growth, did they envisage the rituals we have adopted today and the traditions that have become the norm or that have taken over in a relatively short time? Does it seem to them that their shiny new sanctuary continues to fulfill it's purpose as the house of God for a new generation? Are they still optimistic about the future? And where do they see themselves in that future?
Being prophets today, what would we clear from our sanctuaries to make way for the Kingdom of God?
Do we have the courage to act out our intentions and bring the gospel to life in our familiar and well loved sanctuary?

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