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Sunday, February 16, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 56:4–8
For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered. (NRSV)
God created us to live together in a loving, consecrated community. No matter how you are engineered—whether shy or outgoing, tall or short, artistic or athletic, scholarly or not—there is a place for you in the house of God. Through Isaiah God declares, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.” Everyone who enters the place of worship is entitled to equitable advantage.
The words of Isaiah serve to remind us that everyone who enters the place of worship is unrestricted to fully participate in the life of the sacred community. When another enters our sanctuary we must take great care to ensure that our behavior and actions never become a roadblock preventing them from full participation in all aspects of our church family. Everyone who enters our doors should receive the right hand of fellowship and feel seen, treasured, included, and loved.
In today’s very exclusive conflict-ridden climate, our church’s mission to be a welcoming, serving community reflecting the inclusive love of God is essential. That translates into the genuine embrace of the historically marginalized, those who are poor, are differently abled, are people of color, and are LGBTQIA people.
We are called to extraordinary welcoming. Sometimes it requires nothing more than a kind greeting, a warm handshake, or a sincere smile. Don’t take for granted these simple gestures that signal all are welcome and that a community of faith is complete by the presence of another.
Holy One, we praise you for the vision of community. Help us to live in a way that overflows with your character, grace, and love so that everyone entering our faith community to worship experiences your all-inclusive holy power. Amen.
Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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