Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Welcoming and Affirming

John 12.20-26 NRSV

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

“We are a welcoming and affirming church.” The communities whose mission statement makes this declaration want newcomers to know that theirs is a place of love and welcome. They want newcomers to know that the walls of exclusion that kept them out of other communities do not exist here.
As Philip and Andrew walk with Jesus through Palestine, they watch Jesus chisel at walls of exclusion. They witness Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus, a Pharisee. They stumble upon Jesus’ mid-day bible study with a Samaritan woman. They watch Jesus heal an official’s son. Jesus doesn’t distinguish between any of these people. Instead, he affirms their value, welcomes them fulfills their need.

When the Greeks approach Philip and Andrew explaining that they “wish to see Jesus,” Philip and Andrew don’t distinguish either. There are no walls separating them from these Greeks, these newcomers. These two disciples have learned something from following Jesus’ example and they know what to do. They go right to Jesus to tell him that the world has come to their door. Jesus’ response? The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. It is time for the mission to move forward.

Do we know that we are the closest thing to God people will ever see? Not only are there people who stand outside the doors of the church who wish to see Jesus, there might be somebody sitting right next to us on Sunday morning who wishes to see Jesus. The forward move of Jesus’ mission requires us to make our hearts and spiritual homes places of love and welcome for the world. Show them Jesus.

Kymberly McNair
New York, New York

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