Welcome to my world
People often say those words with some sarcasm attached. One person talks about a bad situation. The other person recognizes a familiar pet peeve and says, “Welcome to my world.”
But even if we speak in sincerity instead of sarcasm, “Welcome” often means “Welcome to my (our) world.” But what does our world look like to someone who is not necessarily at home in St. Anthony Park, or in Lutheran liturgy, or in Northern European heritage?
We are working on hospitality at SAPLC. We want to welcome people to our world of worship, fellowship and service, a world we know and love. With renewed effort we will find and implement ways to help newcomers feel welcome. This is good and necessary.
But I am also wondering what sort of person sees our congregation as outside their world entirely?
I imagine there are many barriers to participation here. They might have their basis in race, in economic disparity, in assumptions (correct or not) about our theology or piety or sincerity. Level of education and political leanings may also be factors in keeping or creating distance. We need to recognize when we say “Welcome to our (worship) world,” we may be talking about a world that others see as alien.
Certainly there are people who would think, “My world is really different from the SAPLC world.” Lots of people might think that for lots of reasons. We cannot be all things to all people, of course. But we need to think about how to extend the love of Christ to people who are unlikely to pass through our doors.
What else can we do? Let me share an answer that comes from outside our congregation: “Do something different.”
That was the heartfelt plea of an African-American man addressing people of privilege in a discussion of the recent violence in Falcon Heights. The Philando Castile incident was so close to home. Even though other incidents have just as much importance, there was a deeper sense of shock over an incident so close to home.
This fall SAPLC will send a team of members to a workshop on racial justice and privilege to be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis. Many congregations from both the Minneapolis and St. Paul area synods will participate. We will work on educating ourselves about the need for awareness and social change to bring about a more just social system.
In this event, we hope to begin reaching beyond our own social world to the other worlds around us where experience, opportunity, and participation look and feel very different. Please pray that we will learn how to make a SAPLC a welcome place for all.
By Pastor Glenn Berg-Moberg