God's Good News of Welcome

God’s Good News of Welcome

Here at Trinity we put high value on “welcoming others in the name of Jesus.”  We do this with our “welcome mugs” on Sunday morning and we do it with bags of food from the food bank.  We have welcomed people to the free community breakfasts and have sat and listened to them share their stories and their concerns.  It was good to be with other Trinity people at the Synod Assembly in mid-May and listen to Dr. Amy Oden talk about welcome strategies.  Her book is called: God’s Welcome: Hospitality for a Gospel-Hungry World and she reminded us of God’s command to welcome strangers.

Dr. Oden described Four Marks of Welcome that all of us can use everyday, not just in our time together at Trinity.  The first mark is that of readiness to share life with others—that means being curious about the stranger, taking time to listen to them and being ready to tell our stories to others.  Readiness includes expecting something new and different from each person we meet and rejoicing in those differences.

Risk is the second mark of welcome—those we welcome may disrupt our lives and force us to think of new ways of doing things.  Perhaps they will be noisy when we crave silence or messy when we are tidy.  Risk reminds us that we cannot control every situation and that trust in God is necessary every time we open our lives to what is new.

The third mark of welcome is that of repentance, which means to turn to a new way.  
The strangers we meet invite us to change from our business as usual way of doing things.  The welcoming church is a renewing church, where change is okay.  Repentance always turns us back to God’s grace and love.

Recognition is the fourth mark of welcome.  When we welcome others we see beyond the surface appearances that could separate us from them or cause us to be judgmental.  When we welcome others we see Jesus in them in a deep way.  As we move into a new relationship, we see that God is at work in this place.

God always welcomes us first and our prayer is that we can learn to love and welcome
others the way God loves and welcomes us.  God’s welcome celebrates our differences and invites us to use our particular gifts in God’s kingdom.  God welcomes you everyday and in everyplace you go!  

We are welcomed in order to welcome others! We are blessed in order to bless others!  Thanks be to God!

Pastor Jocelyn Carson