Saturday, April 24, 2004

Exclusion and Inclusion

Though I'm not gay or bi or exactly a racial or ethnic non-majority, I've also had agonizingly painful experiences of exclusion from the church, and above all at a time I needed refuge, sanctuary, community and inclusion above everything else! I won't revisit the details, but during those for me it was exactly as a friend suggested:

"Sometimes evangelism comes from outside the church and speaks to the church."

During those years I found welcoming places, people, and welcome tables!, where prior to that time I probably wouldn't have imagined looking: in other words, not inside the more physical, more *visibly* institutional walls of the church at all. Since then and finding myself again being welcomed and my gifts more appreciated in the local church, I've become constantly aware of how those of us who are the church aren't the only ones advancing "God's mission," and although I'm speaking of myself as a lone individual (truly was both "lone" and "individual" at that time), since then I've tried to be even more aware and responsive to people and their situations ... I find myself still needing to make some sense of what otherwise I'd write off as several almost entirely lost years.
I, the Lord of font and cup,
covenant to lift you up.
Splash the water, break the bread; pour out your lives.
Faithfully my love you'll show,
so their hearts will always know,
They are mine eternally . . .
"Resident Aliens" describes our dual citizenship very well.

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