I wonder how often you have said or sung “All are welcome”?
It was the theme for the SCM Summer Gathering in Leeds earlier this month. I (Rach, the SCM North West Worker based at St Peter’s House) had been very involved in the planning, so much so that “All are welcome had been shortened to AAW in all of my notes. It wasn’t until the Saturday morning at the event where key note speaker Dr Rachel Muers was exploring what “all are welcome” might actually mean, that I had a chance to really think through those words.
Rach shared stories of the Open-Door Community, who were just that, a community with a door open to all. We explored the ideas of building a welcoming community that needs to be behind the safety of a locked door, like that of a women’s refuge.
Have you ever thought who has the power in a guest:host relationship? Is it the host, they have the home to share, the material wealth to be able to feed and entertain those they welcome into their home? Or is it the guest, who turns up when they like, who society expects the host will feed and water until they choose to leave.
We also looked at Jesus. The Jesus who was a guest in so many homes, who relied on others’ hospitality and even in the time we see him as a servant-hearted host was still a guest in a borrowed room to celebrate the Passover which we know became the last supper.
Rachel suggested that this side of heaven we are limited in our welcome, but drew us to consider the idea of what it might be like to be a doorkeeper in the House of God, where ALL are truly welcome.
So next time you sing that hymn, or welcome someone, or even be a guest, have a think of what we mean we when say “all are welcome”
Rach Collins, June 2017