“Welcoming One Another”

“Welcome one another, just as Christ welcomed you” (Romans 15:7).

Rembrandt SamaritanThe words are from Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome in the middle of the first century. They were in the most cosmopolitan city on the planet, where you could find people of almost any ethnic background or cultural setting or religious persuasion. And they were a church with a hairline fracture just waiting to break, a fissure between Jews and non-Jews in the Christian community. It was a fracture along a convergence of fault lines: religious and theological, ethnic and cultural.

It is to this diverse group, in this pluralistic city, that Paul says, “Welcome one another, just as Christ welcomed you.”

The word Paul uses for “welcome” (proslambanō) could also be translated “receive,” or “accept.” It has the ideas of generous hospitality, of drawing another into one’s circle of friends, of lavish love in warm embrace.

In other words, it reflects exactly how God in Christ has welcomed—received, accepted—us.

Like the father running to embrace his long lost, prodigal son.

Like the king hosting a feast for the last and the least.

Like the Samaritan tending to the wounds of an enemy.

Over the next several weeks in our worship and preaching, we will be reflecting together on “Welcoming One Another.” We’ll be thinking about hospitality and diversity and compassion and conflict and forgiveness and more.

I invite you to join us.

You will be more than welcome.

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2 Responses to “Welcoming One Another”

  1. Lora Braun says:

    There is a tension, isn’t there, between welcoming on the one hand and identity on the other? Especially if welcoming means allowing others (who are not like us) to challenge and maybe even change us.

    • Michael Pahl says:

      Yes, and this creates some difficulties I hope to explore a bit in some of the preaching through this series.

      I wonder, though: What if welcoming is at the heart of our identity? That is, what if our very identity is wrapped up in “welcoming the other”? What if (to push this further into Christian identity) this is in fact at the heart of God’s identity, the Triune God as eternally welcoming the other person, the Word incarnate and Christ crucified to welcome humanity into God’s eternal fellowship? Then, what if that is to be at the heart of the Church’s identity, reflecting the Triune God, reflecting the incarnate Word and crucified Christ, always seeking the other – the different, the stranger, the enemy – and welcoming them into God’s eternal fellowship?

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