Grace sign sends clear message

By The Rev. Carlton Kelley

immigrants and refugees_croppedMany of you have noticed the banner on the south side of our building proclaiming our unequivocal welcome of refugees and immigrants. We have received phone calls from the community commenting favorably on it and a member of the media has asked for an interview about it which has yet to materialize.  It has touched people’s hearts. We owe our thanks to Jeff Wescott who brought the banner to my attention and generously donated the money to purchase it.

This banner proclaims what the Christian Church at our best has always proclaimed: We welcome everyone particularly those most in need of the love of God and the companionship of God’s people. This church community has those most precious things to offer in abundance!

This banner reminds us that the Holy Family were refugees as their ancestors were in the land of Egypt.  The violence and terror of despots has always been with us whether in the form of the puppet dictator King Herod, the mighty king of Egypt or the contemporary versions of the same. Yet the good Lord has never abandoned the people chosen to be his own in the redemption of the world. God has inspired us to welcome, love and protect all – even our enemies – as we will hear in this Sunday’s Gospel reading.  We welcome all because we see Jesus in all.  We welcome all because God first loved us “and gave himself for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

Our country is turning away those most in need of welcome.  But, as our country is not of this world, we must welcome with open arms and hearts all those who cross our path.

Perhaps this could be part of our Lenten discipline to determine new ways to welcome the orphan and stranger and those in need.