Amidst a sermon series where we crowd sourced questions from the congregation, I got a note that read:
The word “you” had emphasis—as if I might miss that part and needed to note it. The note was an invitation to speak less as a theologian and more as a person, less preachy, more in story.
Like many folks, the topic of radical welcome is near and dear to my heart. I shared this in worship and the recording is available on our website if you’d like to hear more of my story. But suffice it to say that many folks have a story where the church has hurt them, betrayed them, made them feel unlovable, caused them to doubt whether they are loved by God. The damage that has been done by churches and by people claiming to be followers of Jesus is astronomical. And it continues.
Which is why the doors matter to me. Because I dream of a world where no kid wonders if God loves them or not. I dream of a world where no person shies away from a community because they don’t know if they can be authentically themselves. I dream of a world where we don’t have to put up rainbow colored doors as a public witness that God unconditionally loves ALL people because its just a given, that of course God welcomes all.
I dream of that world. I think God has been dreaming for a long time about that world. Every time I see rainbows, I think about the covenant made to Noah, after the flood. In the story, God hangs the rainbow in the sky and tells Noah never again will that damage happen. From there on out, God was all in. No matter what. God promised that nothing would come between God and people again. And that sign, that boldly colored rainbow, would remind both God and Noah of that.
Our big, brightly colored rainbow doors out front, are meant to proclaim that same message. They proclaim a message that every person, not just gay, lesbian, bi, and trans folks, needs to hear and know: God’s doors are open to all. No qualifiers. No conditions. Just come as you are. That’s the core of what Jesus knew and taught.
Gay or straight, white or black or brown, tall or short, fat or skinny, poor or rich, extroverted or introverted, left-handed or right handed, child or adult, democrat or republican, Norwegian or Norwegian only for three days during Nordic Fest, whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are beloved, both just as you are and as who you are growing to be day by day.
The doors matter to me because they preach a message every person ought to hear: you are loved by God and by a gathered group of Jesus following folks who strive to be bold enough, crazy enough, to affirm and celebrate the worth of every single person.
May we ALL be bold enough to proclaim that.
–Laura Arnold, Program Support/Adjunct for Lay Education, Iowa Conference UCC