I recently came across this declaration written by Lutheran pastor Chuck Hazlett. It’s a powerful statement of radical welcome that also dovetails nicely with what it means to take the Great Commission seriously.
Who Is Welcome Here
I want it to be of public record that those of different skin colors and heritage are welcome here.
I want it to be known that those who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol (whether they are recovering or not) and their families are welcome here.
I want it to be known that women and children are welcome here and that they will not be harassed or abused here.
I want it to be public record that in this congregation you can bring children to worship and even if they cry during the entire service, they are welcome.
I want it to be known that those who are single by choice, by divorce, or through death of a spouse are welcome here.
I want it to be known that if you are promiscuous, have had an abortion, or have fathered children and taken no responsibility for them, you are welcome here.
I want it to be known that gossips, cheats, liars, and their families are welcome here.
I want it to be known that those who are disobedient to their parents and who have family problems are welcome here.
I want it to be of public record that gays and lesbians and members of their families are welcome here.
Let it be public knowledge that “we are justified by the grace of God, which is a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:20).
We offer welcome here because we believe that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:8). That’s us. Christ did not die for us after we showed signs of “getting it all together.” Christ loved us and still shows love to us while we are yet sinners.
Sinners are welcome here. Sinners like you and me, like our neighbors. Let us not condemn the world, but let us proclaim to a broken and hurting world God’s forgiveness and grace.
I want it to be of public record that since we are a sinful people that we will not always be quick to welcome as we should. Let us be quick to admit our sin and seek forgiveness.
May God give us the grace to welcome and forgive one another as Christ has welcomed and forgiven us.
Hat tip: Brian P. Stoffregen's Exegetical Notes for the Ascension of Our Lord