In the way of Jesus, we seek to create a culture of Welcome. We are hospitable to all people.
Once, Jesus was asked a very important question, "What is the greatest commandment?" He gave a very simple and yet life altering answer. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40)." What Jesus does here is fascinating. He claims that the 2nd is just like the first - meaning - it is equal to the first.
This leads to a very practical question - what does that look like in Lewiston? We are going to spend some time unpacking each of our new values. My hopes that this will start a conversation in Lewiston Auburn about that very question. What does this look like? How do we do this?
Let's get to it...
NOTE [ If this whole Kingdom of God stuff is a new idea for you - I highly recommend checking this out.]
VALUES | In the Way of Jesus, we cultivate a culture of Welcome.
Brennan Manning is a hero of mine. He was a priest, an alcoholic, a failed husband, and writer of many books - most notably The Raggamuffin Gospel. Brennan understood one thing - maybe the most important thing - with crystal clarity. He would often say, "God loves us as we are, not as we should be, because none of us are as we should be."
We love our neighbors just as they are - with no agenda. All are welcome. This means we exist to welcome the native Mainer. We welcome the immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeker. We welcome people of all faiths or no faith at all. We love and welcome our neighbors. Period.
We are dedicated to all of our neighbors and building a neighborhood with them. As the local refugee and asylum seeker population has grown, it has become necessary that our ministry grown with the neighborhood. Offering programing like our emergency and co-op food programing, English Language Learning and Jobs for Life give us a practical opportunity to live out the commands of scripture to welcome the immigrant, sojourner, the stranger.
You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. -Leviticus 19:34
In Matthew 25, Jesus directly identifies Himself with the needy, the immigrant, the prisoner. He says, "If you have welcomed the least of these, you have welcomed me." In the same breath, Jesus both uplifts the needy and marginalized and comes down to them. How important is the refugee, the prisoner, the needy in the Kingdom of Heaven? According to Jesus, welcoming them is like welcoming Him.
Welcoming neighbors is essential to following Jesus. May we be found faithful to this command.