Embracing All People
Come and see…this is the invitation we hear in John’s Gospel, first from Jesus to John the Baptist’s disciples and then from Philip who invites Nathanael to meet Jesus. It’s a pretty open invitation when you think about it. There’s no pressure to give anything, no pressure to join anything or make a commitment. It’s a simple invitation to see, to check out for oneself just what this wandering rabbi Jesus is all about. As the story progresses we see for ourselves that a great many take Jesus up on this offer and people from all walks of life - fishermen, a tax collector, a political zealot, the blind and lame, the poor and even a few of the religious elite come and see. Only a few, however, will stick around long enough to build community because it’s challenging to form a united community from people from such different backgrounds. Each comes from their own context and probably with their own agenda and the barriers to change are high.
I’ve often heard it said that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week. We all tend to search out a worshiping community that is most like what we favor. We all like our worship to be something that is comfortable to us, where we are surrounded by people who think and speak like we do and act like we do. More often than not, if we are honest with ourselves, although we may say we seek to be challenged by God, what we most desire is to be comforted by God or made to feel God agrees completely with all we think and do. It’s hard to have our comfort shaken.
Here at First Pres our vision is to be formed into Disciples (of Jesus) who seek to make a difference and one of the ways we hope to do that is by Embracing All People. Please note that Embracing All People doesn’t necessarily mean asking all people to look, speak, act or worship just like we do. Embracing All People simply means welcoming all people, being willing to get to know people who may or may not be just like us, and in the end being willing to love all people as Jesus did.
It was the love Jesus had for people that caused them to truly follow him on this earth and after his ascension it would be that love made known in the power of the Holy Spirit that would cause people of all languages and customs and walks of life to join together to move beyond their differences and begin to unite in building communities of love and grace and welcome. So how does that happen today? Here at First Presbyterian we are willing to learn from Jesus how to begin to live in such a way and we invite you to join us in this adventure. Come and see!