Biking through East Austin the other day, I noticed a recently opened shop with the sign “Walk Ins Welcome” in the window. It reminded me of the hospitality I’ve known in Austin. I’ve appreciated the warmth of Austinites, their willingness to be flexible and open to unexpected drop-ins. This is a part of why I love this city and its people!
It also reminded me of the welcome each of us have received in Christ. We are invited to come as we are, to walk in, and to find our place with God. With no need to prepare or fancy ourselves up, we find a place in God’s presence because He desires it and has made it possible in Jesus—a costly, reliable, and abundant welcome.
This month is a significant one in the life of our church. With our “Grand Opening” on the 31st and neighborhood groups beginning, we are working to create spaces of community and welcome. We’ll be talking about our plans this Sunday and in the coming weeks, but a major part of this is simply being hospitable people. On Sundays, in groups, and in everything we do, we want to welcome others, whoever they are, with the warmth and joy of the Lord, that they would know His welcome.
This is part of what it means to be a Gospel people, and this quote from St. Edith Stein gets at the call on us:
“Our love for our fellow humans is the measure of our love for God. But it is different from a natural love of our neighbor. Natural love goes out to this one or that one, who may be close to us through the bond of blood or through a kinship of character or common interests. The rest then are 'strangers' who 'do not concern' us, who, it may be, eventually come to be repulsive, so that one keeps them as far away as possible from contact with us. For the Christian, there are no such 'strangers.' Rather, he is the 'neighbor,' this one who stands before us and who is in greatest need of our help; it doesn't matter whether he is related to us or not; whether we 'like' him or not; whether he is 'morally worthy' of help or not. The love of Christ knows no bounds, it never stops, it does not shrink back from ugliness and dirt. He came for the sake of sinners and not for the sake of the just."
In the coming weeks, let’s push together into this calling and make a concerted effort to welcome the new “neighbors” in our midst. Walk-ins welcome!