Have you ever received a gift of welcome that made you feel beloved, like the person or people welcoming you are truly delighted to have you with them? I hope so. I hope each and every one of you can think of a time when someone else greeted you, or beckoned you over to their table, or invited you to join them in an activity, or scootched over on a bench because they wanted to sit next to YOU.
Welcoming the stranger is a value many religious traditions embrace. In Unitarian Universalism, sometimes we speak of “radical welcome” or “radical hospitality,” meaning we strive to offer welcome to people across all manner of differences – differences of gender expression, sexual orientation, race, class, abilities, religion, culture… and at least in theory, even differences of political affiliation.
As we gather again in beloved community, how will we welcome one another? A team has been working over the summer to make sure our Fall Picnic will be as welcoming and accessible as possible for people with disabilities. A committee is working on making our sanctuary fully accessible. But all the ramps and accommodations we can think of do not replace a warm smile, a curious question that creates a deeper a connection between two people, someone noticing that person who is standing alone at social time and inviting them into conversation, or noticing a child and getting down to their level to say hello. As we gather again, how would you like to be welcomed, and what can you do to make our congregation the most welcoming version of itself?
I can’t wait to see you around our campus.