So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
In the late 1990’s, after a year of filing, answering phones and entering data at an up-and-coming mobile phone company called Nextel, I was asked to be in charge of reconciling accounts that hadn’t paid their equipment costs. Strangely, these were big companies that weren’t paying for their equipment, which didn’t make sense to me because surely, they had the money.
It turns out that they weren’t receiving bills that itemized the equipment. All I had to do was to create a document that was clear about what it was that they had ordered and the amount of the items along with the account number and a purchase order number. I reconciled nearly a million dollars in six months with a few phone calls to ensure I got the details correct.
The hard work paid off. The accounts were reconciled. The customers regained confidence in ordering more equipment and continued with their service. The customer/company relationship restored.
This past Sunday, we talked about reconciliation of relationships, the kind that the Apostle Paul talks about in his letter to the Corinthians. Well-known evangelist Rick Warren describes faithful reconciliation not being a problem to solve. Rather, reconciliation focuses on relationships. Through his life, death and resurrection, Christ has reconciled us to God; therefore, we strive to be reconciled to one unto another. We become a new creation, not defined by the brokenness, but transformed by Christ through it.
Talking about humanity’s brokenness and admitting our role in it is hard work. Expressing our hopes and dreams for the Kingdom of God may not always line up with each other’s expectations. Perhaps, we harbor hard feelings that we haven’t fully confronted. Reconciliation —relationship healing for the sake of the gospel— takes time.
These past few weeks at Risen Lord, we’ve unfolded layers of a welcome statement that strives for reconciliation with those who have not always felt welcome or included in the life of Christ’s church. It is an effort to be intentional and explicit in welcoming all no matter who they are because we strive to embody God’s unconditional love for everyone as followers of Christ.
Here is the statement that we have reflected upon so far: God creates, loves and welcomes all people. As followers of Christ, we share God’s love through words and actions. Thus, we welcome all, believing diversity makes us better together as we worship, one family of believers. There is a place at Risen Lord for you regardless of your faith journey, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, socioeconomic circumstance, family configuration, and physical or cognitive ability.
Where do you find yourself in the underlined sentence of the welcome statement?
How might these words impact someone you know and love?
What does it look like to truly live this out as a congregation?