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.