Not Gate Keepers nor Owners, but Hosts

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(Image courtesy of stanthonyshrine.org)

(Image courtesy of stanthonyshrine.org)

I had a conversation the other day where someone point-blank asked me if my church has a problem with gays.  The answer is complicated, and I wish that it were not.  I replied that the church I serve does not, and that my denomination is trying to figure out what its stance will be with regards to gay marriage and ordination of practicing gays, etc.  Looking back I am grateful that this person did not find it necessary to ask if I have a problem with gays.  I don’t have a problem with anyone coming to a church I serve and worshiping when I lead, because it’s not my church or even my worship.  I’m just the hostess God has called for that purpose.  I am not the owner to exclude or include.  That is God’s role, and I am more than happy to leave that to God.  I know this: that God so loved the world, all people, that God came to us in Jesus Christ to save us from sin.  God invites all people into God’s grace, so who am I to exclude, to refuse entry, to prevent from participating in the Body of Christ?  I leave the judgment of a person and their life to God, liberated to love without restriction.  Consequences of our choices are God’s purview, not my place to condemn to hell or promote to heaven.

That goes for all sins.  I don’t care if it is a prostitute who just turned a trick, a drug addict who just came down from a high, a felon just paroled, the racists who speaks words of hatred from their heart, or someone who looks just like me with sins less outwardly obvious, we all belong here in the presence of God, basking in the grace freely offered to us.  Those of us who are members of a local church and active in the congregation are not gate keepers to regulate entry, not when the Holy Spirit is calling to all people to enter in.  We have to stop thinking that we are responsible for the spiritual make up of the people populating our worship.  This is not about what it reflects on us, but what it reflects of God: that God is loving and willing to grant grace to all.  We welcome because that is the sacred task God puts upon the shoulders and into the hearts of all those who choose to dwell in the sanctuary of the House of God.  The invitation to enter in is not ours, but God’s.  We are just the messengers, the couriers of Christ.  By being hosts and hostesses, God has blessed us, removing the duty to judge worthiness.  We practice instead the ministry of hospitality and the mission of love.  A weight has been lifted from us, the burden is not ours, so why do we act as if we are still chained to making those difficult and all together impossible determinations about worthiness?  I am only worthy because God says so, not any human being.  So let’s enjoy this freedom to forget establishing worthiness in the other, and simply enjoy the one place on all the earth where we are all invited, all desired to be present according with the will of God.  That’s the role of the member in the Body of Christ.

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