Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered. ~ Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
From the very beginning, God opened the doors to the gate for all people. Sure, through Abraham, the Hebrew people became God's chosen.
But in Abraham's covenant God made clear what that meant: the chosen were blessed to be a blessing to the nations.
The prophet Isaiah continues this theme. God's holy mountain - God's house of prayer, God's temple, God's church - is open not just to a chosen few.
For a Jewish person of Isaiah's time, the idea of a foreigner coming into God's Holy House would be shocking.
Most churches say they are a place of welcome, but are they? Can you think of someone who would shock you if they showed up on God's doorstep?
Are our doors barred to anyone? Or maybe not our physical doors, but the doors of our hearts and minds?
Would a homeless person feel welcomed into the community? Would a gay person? A transgender person? And asylum seeker from Central America?
Would a black or brown person be made to feel as at home as at a traditionally black church? Or church where Spanish is spoken as the primary language?
Would a drug addict be welcomed? What about a parolee? Would someone wearing a hoodie or a sleeve of tattoos?
God's acceptance of someone into the place of worship is fairly straightforward: love and service to God.
Can we make our acceptance just as simple?
Who do I need to welcome that I'm not, Lord? Please show me! Amen