It would be tempting to think that after we’ve voted to become and Open and Affirming Congregation, that all of the hard work is done. All we do now is wait for all the people to come streaming in through our doors.
But actually, our work is just beginning. It is important to tell lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that they are welcomed at Christ’s table. It is a message I expect we will tell to everyone we meet. But what happens when they arrive at the table? Why should they get up on Sunday morning and become part of our faith community?
When Jesus was on earth, he welcomed the outcast. But Jesus also called people to follow him. Twelve men decided to follow him and to learn from him. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to go and make more disciples; go and make more people who will follow Jesus. The book of Acts details how the disciples went throughout the known world preaching the good news of Jesus and urging people to follow Jesus.
Being an inclusive congregation is important. But we are being inclusive for a reason- to help make new disciples of Jesus who will follow his ways and tell others.
Inclusion and discipleship should go hand in hand. We welcome people to God’s table where they hear the good news of a God that loves us so much that God would sacrifice God’s own life to free all of creation. And then they are sent to share the good news with others and do works for justice.
This is why we have our weekly Bible Study and our Book Club, First Read- so that we can grow as disciples and then go and make more disciples.
As I said last week, may we at First be a witness to God’s inclusive love, and may we also be a place where everyone, every one can grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.