This afternoon, as I was walking from the church to the parsonage, I spotted a cute little bunny on the sidewalk near the parsonage. I stood there watching it for a few seconds and it just stared at me. I didn’t want to scare it, so I went on to the house. I was at the house only a few minutes, and when I returned, I found the bunny sitting on the church steps. I slowly walked up the steps and the bunny did not move. I walked up to the steps until I was on the same step as this cute little bundle of fur. We just looked at each other for the longest time. I wondered if it didn’t move because it had been hurt. I wondered where its mother was. I wondered where it belonged. I said out loud to this little bundle of cuteness, “Don’t you dare go into the church. You don’t belong there! You will only cause havoc and make people upset, no matter how cute you are.” It almost seemed as though it understood my words, for it hopped down the steps and into the playground.

Where do you belong? That seems to be the prevailing question of the day. There are so many voices clamoring to dictate to certain people, “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE.” We have all witnessed the ugliness of hate groups as they gathered to protest specific groups of people.

Last week, an open invitation went out to any and all to come and worship at Temple Sinai in the Hill District for a special worship service titled: “STANDING UP AGAINST HATE.” I was honored to be in attendance. One of the Rabbis read an article by a Rabbi from Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rabbi expressed great concern for the welfare of his Jewish community. But he also expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support by so many. The Rabbi said in the article:

“A frail, elderly woman approached me Saturday morning as I stood on the steps in front of our sanctuary, crying, to tell me that while she was Roman Catholic, she wanted to stay and watch over the synagogue with us. At one point, she asked, “Why do they hate you?” I had no answer to the question we’ve been asking ourselves for thousands of years.”

Why do so many hate? Why do so many say to some of God’s children, as I said to that cute little bunny: “Don’t you dare go into the church. You don’t belong there. You will just cause havoc and make the people upset.”

We will soon be exploring the possibility of becoming a Reconciling Congregation. What does it mean to be a Reconciling Congregation? It means we provide a safe place of worship for all of God’s children regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. It means we will offer the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. It means we will answer the proverbial question, “Where do you belong?” You belong here with the rest of God’s children.

It is time to be the church where all feel safe, included, and at home.

I very much appreciate the words of the poet Kahlil Gibran…

Sayings of the Master

I love you, my brother, whoever you are–
whether you worship in your church,
kneel in your temple, or pray in your mosque.
You and I are all children of one faith
for the diverse path of religion are fingers
of the loving hand of one supreme being,
a hand extended to all,
offering completeness of spirit to all,
eager to receive all. 

Pastor Russel

Photo by sringsmuth