Over the past two years of the Trump presidency I have frequently been asked “why doesn’t the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington DC not bar the doors to the President on the simple grounds that he, with his abusive and anti Christian behavior (that flies directly in the face of what we believe) should simply not be welcome. That we as Christians who believe in loving and forgiving all should not give aid and comfort to a man whose whole instinct appears to be to divide, to bully and to discriminate. It is a difficult question to answer but the question has a very simple response: we are called to love each other and to aid and protect the outcasts and most vulnerable among us. We are not called to turn anyone away…no matter how heinous their behavior and no matter how offensive their life. Our Presiding Bishop and a Primate of the Episcopal Chirch, Michael Curry has been very direct and up front about this. In his latest book the Bishop writes:
“Love is the way. Love is the only way. Those who follow in my way follow in the way of unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial love. And that kind of love can change the world.”
–Bishop Michael Curry
And this is the reason we make the central facet of our worship…the eating of the bread and the sharing of the wine freely available to all who hunger or thirst. There are no credentials to be checked and certified as you walk through the door: only the reality that you were created out of love (God’s love for his creation) and our love for God and for each other. The simple truth of the commandment to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” is that it does not command us to like and respect each other’s opinions…it calls us to do something much more difficult…to love each other despite those opinions however objectionable they might be. So we open our doors widely to the world. Trusting in that act of inclusion that the love we show…even to those who may be “hard to love” has the power to change the world into a more “Christ-like place”. And in that holy act of welcome and inclusion we embrace the true heart of our faith: that Christ understands that we are all prone to mistakes and sins and stumbles on our way. That none are “perfect”. That we need to open our arms and our hearts to all: people who agree with us and those who do not. And in doing so…we bring God’s presence into our daily life in a real and fundamental way. And that can and frequently does change the world. The Reverend Mark Bozutti-Jones in a magnificent Christmas sermon this week at Trinity Church Wall Street challenged us all not to just “think” about our commitment towards love and inclusivity but to get up and “MOVE!” To physically commit an act of Grace: to let a stranger know you love then, to help the hopeless and down trodden in fundamental physical ways… to actually MOVE towards truly being the people of Love that our faith tells us we are. And we cannot do that and at the same time reject anyone whose personal behavior and heinous political beliefs are at odds with ours. And that the physical effort to accept, forgive, invite, love and welcome all can indeed change our world.