The picture above was taken in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A parishioner forwarded it to me after telling me how moved she was to see a town crosswalk painted with the rainbow flag. This image is beautiful in several ways. First, the expression of solidarity is clear, bold and impossible to ignore. Second, the sign of welcome is integrated into the life of the community (everyone uses roads, most people use crosswalks). And third, the flag is painted in an area defined by motion—indicating that if we are to move forward from one place to another, that process is sustained by diversity.
Scripture is clear about the necessity of active welcome. In Leviticus, God tells the Hebrew people not to oppress the strangers among them, but to love them instead. In the letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded that in showing hospitality to strangers we might be showing hospitality to angels without knowing it. And Jesus tells his followers that when we welcome strangers, we welcome Him. Welcome is both of God, and a way to honor how God has welcomed us.
We are pretty good about welcoming newcomers at Holy Apostles. I often hear from visitors who comment on the warmth and friendliness of our congregation. And…there is always room for improvement! As we begin this program year and people continue to feel comfortable returning in person to worship, there are opportunities every Sunday to say hello and introduce ourselves to someone new. Ask them to stay for coffee or extend a follow-up greeting if they are returning. The diversity among us reflects the diversity of God’s creation. Our community is stronger when our welcome is clear, integrated and active.
Blessings (and thanks to Patrizia for the photo and the inspiration!),