Sermon: Experiencing & Extending God’s Welcome

Text: Luke 14: 7-15 Sermon Excerpt What in the name of God is going on here? This is a question you will hear me ask many times in the weeks ahead.  I begin this morning as I did with the children – with welcome. I imagine many, perhaps even most of you have a welcome mat outside the front door of your home.  It is a sign to all who approach your residence that they will find welcome within. Newcomers to communities of faith are usually not looking down to read words on the door Read More …

Extravagant Welcome Reality Check

The United Church of Christ is known for providing an extravagant welcome to all people.  Individual congregations expend considerable energy striving to live this out every Sunday morning when they gather for worship. Recently J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the UCC's Local Church Ministries, shared an experience of the denomination's national offices falling short of providing an extravagant welcome.   The Troubling Situation Every year half a million people flood into Read More …

An Amazing Welcome

Quinn Caldwell is the pastor of Plymouth Congregation Church (Syracuse, NY) and a member of the United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Writers’ Group.  A few years ago when he was serving at Old South Church (Boston, MA),  he wrote about the welcome that church provides to all: In the name of Jesus Christ, and through his spirit, we bid you welcome to Old South Church in Boston, an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. You are welcome here if you are married, or if Read More …

Sermon: An Extravagant Welcome

Sermon Text: Hebrews 13:2 Sermon Excerpt A few weeks ago at the Board of Church Life and Growth, Sheila invited those present to participate in an imaginative activity.  Then, a few days ago, she led the deacons through a similar exercise.  Both groups were tasked with imagining an ideal worship experience. Each person wrote down what he or she envisioned, and then we shared our thoughts with the group.  Most of the ideas focused on the worship service itself.  People long for a service Read More …

An Extravagant Welcome

John Acuff recently shared the extravagant (and lengthy!) welcome found in the bulletin at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community in Daytona Beach, FL: We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. Read More …