Good morning

A few weeks before heading off on vacation, Pastor reached out about me possibly sharing a reflection. The initial thought was, that I had no idea what this would entail and if I would be able to do it. I agreed, and here I am today.

In line with our gospel lesson this week, I would like to share my faith reflection as it relates to welcome.

Specifically, what my life journey has been where I've felt welcome. Like most of you, we all have those instances where we've not felt welcomed.

I'll pose a question to you all now, and feel free to raise a hand or chime in however you feel moved———I don't know if any of you ever walked into a room/function/gathering and just had a feeling of not belonging. Or perhaps the same scenario but just had an absolute feeling of belonging. I've experienced both numerous times.

One of the instances where I felt most welcomed was when I walked into Redeemer a little over ten years ago. On that first visit, I knew this was the church for my family. It was myself, Julius, and Leala that visited that day. Everyone was so welcoming.

I had been searching for a Church for some time. That same year I lost my mom, and I honestly could not share what welcoming has looked like for me without her being part of that story. Growing up, my mom's faith was strong, and she welcomed everyone; there was never any judgment. My upbringing has everything to do with my belief in what kind of welcome God calls us to give to others.

Welcoming for me is accepting/embracing everyone, casting no judgments. Just knowing how I would want others to treat me is a huge driver in how I treat others. My mom instilled this in us, and it's the same for me with my kids.

The church should be a place accepting of everyone. Being here at Redeemer, everyone that walks through those doors is welcomed from all walks of life. The congregation and the Pastor are always welcoming, the way it should be.

I would like to close out my reflection by —— inviting you all to consider Jesus' invitation to us and to rethink what our welcome looks like, whether it be in our personal lives or our congregation.

Thank you