A Pastoral Word
September 2016

Welcome Window imageAt our Cabinet Retreat on Saturday, August 20th, the leadership of Midway Christian Church and I explored what inspiring image articulates our vision and mission as a community of faith. An inspiring image clearly reveals the core values and bedrock beliefs that are special to the church. It powerfully motivates volunteer commitment and sacrifice. But more importantly, it sharply defines the purpose of the church. So I shared with them this image (at left). It is our Welcome Window that sits about our front doors. I asked if this image resonated with them and if it said anything about Midway Christian.

What came about from this conversation was a delving into our understanding of what it really means to be people of WELCOME in the Midway community and beyond. A fear was named by the group that we use the idea of welcome only as it relates to the experience of welcoming people into our church. "e are great at welcoming people when they walk into our front doors but not so great at welcoming others who are beyond our four walls."

This conversation has stayed with me beyond just the Cabinet Retreat. I find myself asking, "How well
do we really live out our mission of ELCOME as Midway Christian Church?" and I always come back to
this particular image.

As I have pondered this image over the last few days, I am drawn to the fact that the word "Welcome"
bows in an arch. It is like the welcome, which greets everyone who enters this church, is extended from
one end to the next, telling all the world that WELCOME is not just a one place experience but something
that connects two points, maybe even connecting two people. I also can't help but notice that the word "ELCOME" is not straight or small. It is broad and encompassing, almost as if the two curly q's at the end of the welcome banner are like hands, stretched out in invitation.

The other thing I see as I look at this image are the rays of light shining forth under the word, "Welcome," creating a beacon that is projected out over the wider community. You know, like how Gotham has the "Bat Signal" to beckon Batman whenever there is trouble, this image of WELCOME is our signal to the rest of the world that we stand for acceptance. e stand for justice. We stand for mercy. e stand for compassion. e stand for LOVE!

I may be reading too much into one stained glass window but for me this image articulates that our mission and vision of WELCOME as a community of faith is a both/and experience for us. We as a community are a safe place for those who have been rejected and hurt by others, offering them WELCOME to come and find love, grace and acceptance within these four walls. It also challenges us to go out and BE the presence of ELCOME for others in our community, creating atmospheres of love and grace wherever we go, being beacons of light shining in the darkness. This image of WELCOME does not face in, exclusively for the members. It faces out to the wider community and extends the WELCOME to all.

There is one song that always comes to mind every time I see this image of Welcome. It is "I'm Gonna Eat at the Welcome Table." "This is a well-known spiritual that often is sung by predominately white congregations as a communion hymn. However, it is less a communion hymn than it is a song of protest,
consolation, revolution, justice and human dignity. The text [of this song] emphasizes not the Table,
but the fact of being welcomed, wanted, and invited by a loving, yet righteous and just God… [This
hymn is deceptively simple but its very words are powerful as it calls] humanity to join God in the redemptive and transforming work of Jesus Christ. It invites us to live out the drama of [welcome] by
proclaiming the gospel through word and deed." (Chalice Hymnal)

Deceptively simple but extremely powerful...sort of like the stained glass WELCOME window. As we
continue to vision where God is leading us, I want us all to ponder the question: "What does it really
mean for us to be people of WELCOME" as we continue to claimed it as our mission and ministry.

Heather

 

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green chalice
Green Chalice Congregation since 2010
Certified Green Chalice Congregation since 2015
Midway Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
123 East Bruen Street
P.O. Box 4548
Midway, KY 40347
(859) 846-4102