This song sings as if it is our invitation to others. We sing:
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again, come.
We sing within the sacred space of our sanctuary, and we issue, with sincere hearts, this invitation that Rumi made in his mystical poetry centuries ago. We issue the invitation as those who know that we ourselves have broken our vows a thousand times, and we invite others who may also be aware of their own fragility.
It is easy to sing this message with confidence and with the sense of those who belong. Welcome to our church. Welcome to our sanctuary. Welcome to our sacred space. Come, come, whoever you are.
And people do. And then what?
The subtle reality is that whenever I invite you into my space, into my home, to my table, suddenly everything changes–BECAUSE YOU ARE HERE. And because you are here, because you, whoever you are, answered my invitation, this space is no longer my space as I knew it. Now, it is (or should be) our space instantly being transformed because you are here.
Are we willing to let that happen? It is the magical, mystical power of a genuine invitation.
Most of what I am writing here came out of a conversation with Nathalie Bigord after the service yesterday as we reflected on our adult RE session. She facilitated the session about recent events in the Unitarian Universalist Association that brought to light practices of hiring and leadership appointments that stand in direct contradiction to our stated principles (all of them, really) but especially those that pertain to race, gender and social status. We pondered the powerful story, reflections and sermon given by Karen Smith, Lorena Griffin and Dan Kelly.
When you say–come, come whoever you are–and people show up, then what? Surely if we continue to pretend that nothing has changed about us when folks show up, it would be like welcoming invited folks to your home and then disappearing back in front of the television and ignoring them. Our invitation and welcome, while it certainly is an opening to others is also a deep, often challenging invitation to ourselves to take on the next set of changes that we will make in order to be that caravan of no despair.
And caravans are always on the move.
Such a simple.thought that had never.come to mind and heart before. Once you come with me at my invitation, we become we and thus different. Honoring that collective is a piece of radical welcome. Again…rocking my world. Working to fit it in.
Powerful words today. As the Membership chair, I ask myself this question often, What can we do to welcome the stranger into our congregation more fully? It does mean everyone in our congregation needs to be fully involved in this welcome.