Have you ever seen the old westerns where the strangers walk in and everyone stops? Even the piano player? Although Shelle says I’m conveniently remembering things, I swear even the jukebox cut when we walked in to the restaurant. It was a chilling effect, and very clearly said, “This is not a place for people like you.”
I do not for a second think that our congregation ever does the “Western Welcome,” and I am thankful for that. I hope no churches do the Western Welcome, though I’ve heard stories and they break my heart. If there is one place where there is room at the table, and a seat open for whomever, wherever they come from and wherever they may go, it is in the congregation. And the question becomes, is there a natural limit?
In the reading for this Sunday, the evangelist Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch, sitting in a chariot, trying to figure out the book of Isaiah. So the eunuch is from a different place, of a different race, and of a different sexuality. Of course, we could also gather from the text he’s rich enough (or in a good enough station) to have a chariot, leisure time to read, and literate. So he’s an outsider in many ways and a far-insider in others; what Philip does is live the Gospel to see what happens. This is an important text in the life of the Church, and it’s an important text in the life of our congregation, so I do hope you’ll join us Sunday as we look at things From the Inside Out. Who knows? It might prompt a little less conversation, a little more action, please.