An Extravagant Welcome
A few years ago, my blog friend Lynn shared pictures of a quilt that she was making for her church. It took her a couple of years, and she generously documented her progress so that others could make similar quilts. Lynn named her quilt "An Extravagant Welcome." I thought it was a beautiful quilt (it's pictured above) and nothing would do but that I would have to have one. I organized a block swap and the participants wrote little tiny biographies about the people that they had made; there were people of many races, occupations, sexualities, you name it. There was even a green-complected witch dressed in a Hallowe'en print outfit. My finished quilt, pictured below, was given to my younger granddaughter for her bed.
A couple of weeks ago at our congregation's annual meeting, someone raised the question of flying a rainbow flag outside of the church to indicate our welcome to LGBTQ people. A respectful discussion ensued. Someone raised the point that by extending a specific welcome to a particular constituency, we might be leaving out others, that we might be saying something like, "If you haven't yet figured out exactly where you stand on every issue surrounding sexuality, this isn't the place for you." We have LGBTQ members at our church but they aren't treated like something special; they are just like everyone else.
Somehow in my brain, this question connected to our pastor's recent sermon. He grew up in East Berlin and well remembers the Wall. He told us he had been taught that the Wall was to protect the citizens, to keep Evil Others out. But he knew that it was also to keep East Berliners in. I continue to think about the possible connection with the rainbow flag issue, and about another Wall much in the news today.
When we were in London this past autumn, I stopped by St. Paul's Covent Garden and saw their welcome sign. Instantly I knew that this Anglican church was definitely where this Lutheran would worship in the event she ever moved to London. This sign is truly An Extravagant Welcome.