September 15, 2014
It is Convocation time. Call it continuing education, connecting with colleagues, time away, whatever, but certainly call it learning. Rev. Peter Marty, pastor, theologian, writer and dynamic speaker is the Keynote for the meeting. Today he talked about welcoming, hospitality, and sharing space with others.
He shared that a saying hung in his boyhood home: Let all who enter here be welcomed as Christ. This saying, he told us, helped to form his life. So he asked, how do we, or how would we, welcome Christ (and his focus was mostly on welcoming in a congregation)?
For one thing, he suggested to eliminate the use of the word “visitor.” Think of how we treat the visitor, of say, the football team. For one thing, the visiting team gets the worst seats in the stadium, at least according to what I noticed last Friday night at the football game honoring Coach (see #255). They know they are not a part of the community to which they have arrived and, just in case they do not know, they are usually reminded fairly quickly.
Thing is, Christ is not a visitor; Christ is the host and should be welcomed as such. He is not an outsider of the family, because not only is he a part of the family, he IS the family and makes us a part of the family with and through him.
How do we welcome the “unfamiliar with our space?” Do we open many doors of welcome (not literally, but figuratively with different events and opportunities for gathering); do we meet folks at the threshold or go out into the parking lot (and neighborhood) and direct them in? Or do we wait for them to make that meager knock on the door and hope they will be brave enough to open it and come in on their own?