Developing a theology of welcome

Faith Link Andrew Harrison SPEAKS about the importance of welcome in our Christian theology

Father God invites us, beckons and runs to us. Yes Father God runs to us. We are welcomed, accepted, included. There is no "homeless shelter" but  there is a radical constancy of God's love and a radical implication where a man who squanders all his money is treated completely equal to someone who is fair and just. There is no 'why' apart from love, apart from reconciliation, apart from peace. A good theology requires us to live by grace and not by perfectionism and legalism. Being righteous does not come from our perfect living, but from God's perfect love. This love never manipulates, but freely accepts all humankind as who they are. There are no barriers or conditions, there is just love.

Over the colder months, the churches in Camden are setting up a winter shelter. I went there for a taster session the other week to discover a community, rather than a homeless shelter. I went there to discover equality, rather than division. I went there to discover abudance, rather than scarcity. The team leader for the evening said to the volunteers "We don't have many problems here, because we are inviting people to a community not a homeless shelter" The candelit dinner and abundance of meat and vegetarian food allowed people to eat as much food as they needed. The beds provided and the earplugs allowed people to have a good night sleep in the beautiful sanctuary of an historic Anglican church in Primrose Hill. Prayers are steeped in this building and candles that prophesy light and safety for the communties of London and the world are lit.

Developing a theology that acknowledges that all are welcome is paramount. If we exclude people, we exclude the Christ that welcomed all. If we discriminate on outer apperances or outer behaviours, we are excluding the Christ who ate with tax collectors and sinners. If we see the homeless simply as poor people, we could be in danger of being complacent with the structures of injustice in our society. Seeing things in the eyes of Jesus can be uncomfortably transforming, yet we are invited to a comfort which is neverending, superseding the spirit of discomfort. Our comfort is knowing that we are all loved and my message to SPEAK is that Jesus died for you so no matter what anyone says God will always, always love you.Yes God does indeed loves you, and God loves his whole creation so let's create circles of love in our society and develop a theology that indeed welcomes all.