June 27, 1999
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me also welcomes the one who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet, just because that person is a prophet, will be given the same reward as a prophet. Anyone who welcomes a good person, just because that person is good, will be given the same reward as a good person. And anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded. [CEV]
1. At Annual Conference a couple of weeks ago we overwhelmingly passed the following resolution:
WHEREAS, "For in one spirit we were all baptized into one body... and we were all made to drink of one ......... If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored all rejoice together with it." (1 Corinthians 12:13, 26)
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church affirm that all are welcome in our faith communities. This means that we commit ourselves to welcoming persons of all sexual orientations into the life of The United Methodist Church. It also means that we commit ourselves to building bridges of understanding and trust between persons who have been divided on this issue.
Alone, we are not equal to this task, but we are not alone. We ask God to lead us as we enter into the work of trust, hospitality and welcome.
2. Is this oriented toward those that bring a word of prophecy that the Holy Spirit is teaching us something too difficult for us in the past? Is this oriented toward those who are simply "good" regardless of their sexual identity? Is this oriented toward those who are most humble, seen as the least? Do any of these criteria make a difference to the issue of hospitality? Are they specific categories that one must be in to be welcomed or are they simply indicative that welcoming is going to go on when one follows such a living God?
3. Another approach is to raise the question of what reward you are willing to participate in. Prophets get killed. Are you still willing to welcome someone if that is your reward? The good offer their lives and livelihoods for others. Are you still willing to welcome someone if that is your reward? The most humble are still discriminated against in this world. Are you still willing to welcome someone if that is your reward?
Welcoming is not automatic or easy. It is probably also not individualistic. The communities you are a part of are also called to be welcoming, not just you. Are you willing to work to make your community welcoming or will you settle for only you being welcoming? If it is just you, can you stay out of being prideful that you are the most welcoming person in your group?
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