Everyone Welcome – Everyone Equal
My grandmother used to tell me stories. When she was a child, she would on occasion go with her mother to the home of the richest family in DeKalb, Illinois. DeKalb was the birthplace of barbed wire. Barbed wire helped tame the American West. In 1874, the Barb Fence Company produced 10,000 pounds of wire. By 1879, that figured had grown to more than 50 million pounds. Barbed wire was big business and it made vast fortunes for the entrepreneurial inventors.
The Ellwood House was a grand mansion. It was a one of a kind show-place that hosted parties for Civil War generals, politicians, and industrialists. The ballroom was decorated, there was dancing, cigars, and fine wine. No expense would be spared. It was all about extravagant hospitality for the guests.
The servants employed at the Ellwood Mansion were numerous, but the grand parties required more labor. My great-grandmother and other women in town would be hired to work in the kitchen, in the parlors, out of sight, behind the scenes. My grandmother remembered those nights fondly. Sometimes she played with the Ellwood children, other times she never got out of the kitchen.
The servants had only one role. They were there to serve the Ellwoods, by taking care of the needs of every guest. It should be noted that the servants did not have a say in the guest list. The Ellwoods invited whomever they wished. It was not the servants’ place to approve or disapprove. The merit of each guest was simply not their business.
The servants either understood this, or they were soon not welcome in the mansion themselves.
Every Sunday, we come to a mansion that we helped build. But the mansion, we call the church, does not belong to us. We are simply servants here. Jesus is the one and only host of every party at TLC. Jesus invites whomever he wishes.
Our role is not to approve of the guest list, we are not to judge the merit of anyone that enters the doors of the church. The past or present of the guests is none of our business. Their age, occupation, belief system, or orientation is not our concern. The master of the house invited them to the party and they showed up.
Our only response is to welcome them with open arms, to take their coat, to offer them a drink, to express our profound appreciation for their presence.
For much of the history of the church, we have forgotten our place. The one who invited known sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes to the party, does not need us to keep the church free from riff-raff. We work here; that is all.
Everyone welcome—everyone equal. It is either true, or it is not. We either follow Jesus, or we don’t. At the feast of bread and wine, everyone eats; no one is turned away.
Every Sunday when you come to TLC, dress appropriately. Wear the clothes of a servant. More importantly, have the attitude of a servant—the attitude of Jesus. What freedom God offers us!
You are gay? Does not matter to me. I just work here. Come on in, join the party.
You are divorced? Does not matter to me. I just work here. Come on in, join the party.
You are a Trump supporter? Who cares? I just work here. Come on in, join the party.
You are a Patriots fan? Does not matter to me. I just work here. Come to the table.
“Many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus. When the Pharisees saw this they said, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”
Gotta love those religious people. The servants who argue with the Master about the guest list are soon the only ones not welcomed at the party.
I look forward to serving you this Sunday- come serve with me.
WOMEN’S RETREAT 2019 SIGN-UPS ARE OPEN!
Our weekend TLC Women’s Retreat will be Friday evening, May 31 through Sunday morning, June 2 at Warm Beach Conference Center in Stanwood. We are blessed to have Eileen Burdick–ELCA pastor, hospice chaplain, and TLC member—as our speaker. Sign-up after church today in the gym. You may secure your place with a $50 deposit. For additional information, pick up a flyer in the gym or contact Shaleen at email@example.com.
Women’s BOOK Study Begins Tuesday, January 8
Women’s BOOK Study begins a new session on Tuesday, January 8, 10-11:30 am in the Fireside Room. We are going to read David Benner’s Spiritual Journey Book Series (3 books), beginning with Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality. Books and sign-ups for this 5-week series will be available today in the gym or contact Shaleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s BIBLE Study Begins Friday, January 11
Women’s BIBLE Study begins a new session this Friday, January 11, 10-11:30 am in the Fireside Room. We will take a reflective, contemplative approach to Psalm 23, “Life with the Good Shepherd,” one phrase each week. Sign up today in the gym or contact Shaleen at email@example.com
Reflective Practices for the Attentive Christian Life, Sat, Jan 19
Reflective Practices for the Attentive Christian Life meets on the third Saturday of each month, 10-11:30 am in the Fireside Room, for a time of connecting with God through a variety of practices. On Saturday, January 19, our practice will be a guided experience of writing a “New Year’s letter to God,” a structured time of reviewing the previous year and embracing the new year in God’s loving presence. Men, women & high school youth are invited to come be “alone with God in community.” Sign up today in the gym or contact Shaleen at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Epiphany Celebration & Baked Potato Dinner January 6 at 5:00 p.m.
You are all invited to an Epiphany Celebration!
This is an all-ages, inter-generational event to learn about Epiphany, grow in our faith, and enjoy a baked potato bar dinner and fun activities together. We will meet at 5:00 this evening in the gym.