All are welcome in this place!


Smack dab in the middle of the weekly bulletin for my church for June 2, More Light Sunday is the message, “All are welcome in this place! New faces and voices are always welcome and add to the spirit of our worship, education, mission, and fellowship.”

I found two news stories in the past six weeks reflecting that element of shalom.

ITEM: Sacramento State’s unique approach helps bring a peaceful end to campus protest

“‘President Luke Wood oversaw a peaceful end to a campus protest over the Israel-Hamas war, one of the many that have taken place at universities nationwide in recent weeks…

“‘I did 92 listening sessions, 75 minutes each, with over 1,500 of our students, faculty, staff,’ Wood said… 

“‘I got to first tell you how I feel as a person, as an individual, and really as a Black man, I get a heightened level of anxiety,’ Wood said. ‘When people are in fear, they respond in a protected mechanism, which doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes.'”

The campus encampments broke up in a couple of weeks, without violence or calling in the police. 


ITEM: A group of Jewish and Palestinian women uses dialogue to build bridges between cultures

“They call themselves Zeitouna — a group of six Jewish and six Palestinian women in Michigan that have been meeting twice a month for more than two* years. The name is the Arabic word for olive tree, and their motto is ‘refusing to be enemies.'” 

*Based on the Zeitouna website and the CBS broadcast story, this should be TWENTY years, going back to right after 9/11.

“The safety of the group and their environment has allowed the women to remain committed to each other in the face of Oct. 7 and the war that followed.”

“‘You absorbed my pain, as I absorbed your pain. It’s important to just have a space, a place where everybody is there with open arms,'” Wadad Abed, one of the group’s members, said during a meeting.

“Diane Blumson, another Zeitouna member, told CBS News, ‘There’s room in a humanitarian way to recognize the trauma of the other. And people have lost that ability right now.'”

Members of Zeitouna were invited to the Arab-Jewish group at a nearby university to share their methodology. 


The Scripture reading for June 2 was Mark 3: 20-35. The last five versions of the NIV selection: 

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

To me, this is saying that community is where you find it, whether it be a college president swimming against the tide, a group of women from different faith traditions swimming against the tide, or churches responding with open doors. 

A “conservative Christian” group called My Faith Votes notes in a recent email, “America is changing fast. We are more divided and intellectually lost than ever before. That’s why it is more crucial than ever for Christians to have a firm foundation and to align their views with the truth of God’s Word.

“Not to mention, when Christians think biblically, they vote biblically — something of grave importance this presidential election year.”

I absolutely agree with this sentiment, although I know that we would not agree with what “the truth of God’s Word” is. My God is a big-tent God.

Not incidentally, my church had a float of sorts in the Pride Parade yesterday. My daughter and I participated. The big mistake I made was falling to wear my knee brace. 

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