One of my saddest memories took place in a church.
I grew up in the Catholic church. When I was a little kid, my parents divorced. And, depending on whose house I was in on the weekends, that’s the parent who took me to Sunday mass.
When I was old enough to partake of Holy Communion, I would get up from the pew and step into the line to walk to the front of the church like everyone else.
Everyone else except my parents.
They couldn’t get in the line. Because of the divorce, they couldn’t participate in communion anymore.
I have such a vivid memory of taking communion and walking back and seeing my mom sitting there by herself.
It had to be hard for my dad or my mom to have to sit there by themselves as all of the other parishioners walked by.
My parents had grown up in the church, and after the divorce they were no longer welcomed back, fully, into the fold.
Yet, I never heard them complain.
Don’t get me wrong. Churches have their rules, and that’s okay. I don’t hate the Catholic church. In fact, I have deep affection for the Catholic church. I just hate that memory.
But it gives me motivation, as a Christian, to do the best I can to make sure all who enter the doors of our church are welcome. We’re all broken in some way. And the Christ I’ve come to know didn’t come into the world to continue to beat us down.
He came to heal and to save.
Mark 2:16-17 says:
When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Broken people will enter our doors. It’s then that we have a decision to make — welcome them with open arms and the love of Christ OR give them another dose of the sideways glances and the snubs they get on the outside.
What does your church do to make sure every person who walks through the door is welcome?