All are welcome. It’s a phrase many churches like to say or have posted by the door to welcome people in. Yet, is it true? Does it really mean what it says, or should there be an * at the end as in – All are welcome*. You know certain conditions apply.
All are welcome…as long as you are just like us.
All are welcome…as long you don’t ask us to change. We’d rather you became just like us.
All are welcome…except for those people. We don’t really want their type. They are dirty and icky.
Or maybe you are part of a church where all are truly welcome – no exceptions. I find that hard to believe though – all churches are made up of human beings and we are all flawed and sinful. We judge people.
Besides, I’m not aware of too many churches who would welcome someone in with intent to cause harm to the church body.
The intent behind the phrase is good. It’s the idea that all are welcome because this is God’s house. Yet, here we are, failing to live up to it.
But maybe the point isn’t to live up to it. Maybe it’s something to stretch towards. Maybe it’s like a sermon – full of Law and Gospel.
All are welcome – the Law hits and shows us how we fall short and are in need of God. We can’t do it, we fail over and over again. We fall short, regardless of the intention. We judge and sort people, often based on what they look like, sound like, wear, etc.
All are welcome – the Gospel shows us that because of what Jesus has done and what God is doing in our lives and in the life of our congregation all are truly welcome. Welcome to become part of the sinners and saints. Welcome to become part of the body of the church that is in constant change. Welcome to answer and respond to the call to serve our neighbors. Welcome to be who we are, and ready to become who God is making us to be.
All are welcome.