In a workshop/dialogue/whatever-you-want-to-call-it today we discussed the peaks and pitfalls of becoming an "embracing church." The use of the term was quite conscious in that they didn't want to say "inclusive." Seems lots of churches who have been encouraged or challenged or just forced to be inclusive treat the experience like the 5-year-old sister you and your 10-year-old friend had to let play with you. There's a certain amount of joy lacking in the endeavor.
Well, five hours into it, my small group had somewhat of an ephiphany. We identified that the entire group had at some point been outside the U.S. And we wondered if the same might be true of the others in the room who would choose to come to a conference on such a topic. Is it possible, we wondered, that forcing one's self to cross a culture and share the essence of one's faith and not all the trappings in a culturally sensitive, context appropriate way might actually help one consider doing the same upon the return to native soil???
We also identified that our inclusiveness or openness or tolerance might easily be traced back to a personal crisis of faith. Again, it was true around our little circle at least.
When the bottom drops out, you're not so picky about whose hand you grab for. Some might call that the beginning of grace. And grace is absolutely critical if we are ever going to truly embrace one another.