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Let there be Welcome

Last week, on his blog, Rolling Around in My Head, my friend Dave told of an encounter that moved him deeply, in a post entitled, Mary and Joseph: A Different Story

This post is not directly about that story, but if you click on the title above, you can read it. You'll be glad you did.

In an email about the post afterwards, Dave wrote some words that sank deeply into my heart:

Let there be welcome here so that it is possible to imagine welcome - there. This is my prayer

Dave's words made me think about the importance of being "welcome" for people. His post was about a couple with disabilities; but all of us need welcome and acceptance.

This morning I read Luke 19, about Zaccheus, the tax collecter. Although I've read it so often; this time, it came alive for me in technicolour; I think, because Paul and I just watched the marvelous HBO mini series, John Adams, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by David McCullough, on the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.

The parallels were easy to spot. A far away government (in Luke's account; Rome: in the America; Britain) levying heavy taxes on people to finance the expansion of their empire.

Zaccheus was a chief tax collector. He was wealthy. He had profited personally from a collaboration with an occupying force. His complicity with the occupiers, was a betrayal of his own people. Anyone who has been following my family memoir will see parallels in part of our history.

Jesus enraged the crowd by demonstrating acceptance of this hated man. He was making "welcome here," for Zaccheus, so that he might be able to imagine welcome-there.

Meditating on this I felt an overwhelming personal sense of God's love and acceptance.

In Peter Scazzero's book, Begin the Journey with the Daily Office (p.42), Peter quotes a story written by Lori Gordon in her book, Passage to Intimacy. The story, in synopsis, is about a boy who grows up beside a turbulent body of water. As a man he builds a raft to get to the other side. Instead of leaving it behind when he has no further use for it, he lashes it onto himself and carries it with him. He doesn't notice all of the things he can't do and the way that the heavy raft on his shoulders limits him. He doesn't notice the weight because he has never known what is like to be free of it.

Peter writes: Those who leave home as young adults, determined to "break" with their family histories, soon find their family's way of "doing" life follows them wherever they go...only the truth sets us free.

Today I experienced acceptance and freedom. God held me close and loved me. I felt welcome.

And it felt so good.

Isaiah 43:1 (New Living Translation)
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.

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