In October 2012, The Pew Forum released a survey of Americans and their religious belief. The Pew study revealed that one in five Americans have no religious affiliation: For people under thirty, that number is one in three. Figuring out how to connect and reach out to these religious “nones” has been the topic of conversation for Christian leaders for the past several months. But, unlike some of the other buzzwords and topics, I think this one is very, very important.
At its last meeting, the hospitality council began to ask some really fascinating questions. My favorite is; how do we show hospitality to the wider community? As our conversation has begun to unfold I wondered about the “nones” in our community. How can we connect with them? How can we reach out to them? How can we listen to their stories and learn from what turned them away from the Church in the first place? But, I wonder about more than just the “nones,” I wonder about all the people in our community. I wonder about how we can reach out to everyone around us? How can we share the abundant gifts we have? How can we build relationships with those outside our walls?
In Sunday’s epistle from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we hear a well-known piece of scripture. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Here Paul is speaking about the divisions of his time, but we can just as easily come up with all those things which divide us today: race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, education, sports team, etc. We are reminded that these things don’t matter, that we are all called to be one in Christ – to be in community with one another.
When we hear Paul’s words on Sunday, may they enliven us and inspire our discernment as we try to find new ways of being community and building relationships with all those around us. May we be strengthened to listen to how they have felt unwelcomed. And may these words encourage us to put aside our differences and recognize the presence of Christ in all people – whether they see the presence of Christ in themselves or not.