Communicating Welcome Series Part 3: DIVERSITY roots in RESPECT
What does a welcoming Church, which celebrates diversity, look like? Diversity is a double-edged sword. If we welcome diversity, chances are we will encounter opposing personal truths based on different personal experiences. When we welcome new people into our community, once the initial warmth of meet-and-greet wears off, we inevitably will discover that we have different approaches to worship, music, prayer... different values, politics... different perspectives of how things are done.
In a church that values conformity, new people will soon discover that they are expected to conform to the norms. But what about a church that values the richness of diversity? How do we orient new people into our parish family that truly aligns with our parish vision of being Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts?
I suggest that we strive for walking the humble way of RESPECT. As welcoming hosts, we are a sign of Christ’s welcome to those who seek to belong. To do that, we learn to suspend our judgment and take the posture of curiosity when we come into contact with someone new. Think about how Christ validated your own experience and personal journey to faith and offer the person the same validation and respect. Ask God how may this person enrich our community and our common life and call forth the often surprising gifts people bring with them. Never forget that every encounter, every moment to connect with someone new (as well as someone you thought you knew all too well) could be an opportunity to entertain angels unaware!
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” ~Hebrews 13:2