The Pastor’s Page

Christ Has Broken Down All Barriers

A Welcoming Statement for PRLC was announced at the Spring Annual Meeting. The statement is the result of our discernment around becoming an RIC (Reconciling in Christ) congregation. The statement reads as follows:

As people made one in the waters of baptism, we believe our lives and faith are strengthened by diversity. We strive to be a community that welcomes people of every ability, age, citizenship status, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, language, life circumstance, marital status, political perspective, race, and sexual orientation. Whether you are a believer, doubter, or seeker, we openly welcome and value you. We celebrate God’s unconditional love and respond joyfully to your presence here. All are welcome. You are welcome.

This statement was received with great enthusiasm. It is an important step to take, especially during a time of deep polarization within our nation. The witness of the Gospel counters all forms of racism, sexism, and classism.

I am not surprised that the statement begins with the acknowledgment of God’s gift of Baptism. There is a baptismal spirituality or ethos at PRLC, thanks in large measure to the WAY process and the centrality of baptism in our common life and
liturgy.

Maxwell Johnson, an ELCA Pastor who teaches at the University of Notre Dame, is fond of describing baptism as the “Great Equalizer.” He points to St. Paul’s words in Galatians, chapter 3, that in Christ there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all baptized in Christ have clothed themselves with Christ.

Building off Paul’s ancient welcoming statement, Johnson asks, “Who are the displaced in our world today if not those separated by race, by social and economic status, or by gender? Who are the displaced even, at times, in the Church if not those separated by race, by social and economic status, or by gender?” (The Rites of Christian Initiation)

Becoming an RIC congregation is an important way of saying that this parish is a safe place and a sign pointing to God’s redeeming work in the church and in the world.

The next time you see the water poured into the font or dip your hand in the waters and make the sign of the Cross, remember that Christ has broken down all human barriers. You are part of a community of love made possible by God. Tell others they are welcome. Invite others to make the journey to the font.

Christ is making all things new!

Peace,
Pastor Hansen