Happy Mondays, Friends!
The Acts of the Apostles tells us that “The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold” (Acts 4:32-34 NRSV).
Last week the LOVEboldly staff and members of our board attended the Q Christian Fellowship’s (QCF) virtual conference. QCF had intended to host the conference onsite in Albuquerque, NM, with some people (including us) attending remotely. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant pushed them to pivot to a fully online conference. Even though we never planned to be at the conference in person, I found myself very affected by the loss of that community and the many ways that community cannot be translated into a virtual format.
We all know that community is important. In our own experiences we have found community and, I imagine, at times we have been excluded from communities. Our expectations about what community should and should not do have sometimes been met and at other times have been transgressed. For many LGBTQIA+ people—as well as members of other marginalized communities—the church has been a conditional community which has told us that we can be in community IF we do something, IF we don’t do something, or IF we change something about ourselves. But Jesus said, “You shall love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NRSV).
The easy question to ask is when you have been excluded. The harder question is when have you excluded others? When have others been excluded on your behalf?
Let us pray: God, strengthen our communities. When there is a temptation to exclude others, give us the grace to welcome people instead. When our backgrounds, cultures, institutions, and churches tell us that exclusion is the only way, give us courage to practice radical hospitality. Let our tables be long and wide with the welcome of your Kin-dom. Amen.
Blessings, friends, on your week! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.