By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Recently I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Contemplate This with Tom Bushlack. He interviewed Myra Rucker. Lots of topics were covered in the podcast, but one statement Myra made really stuck with me. Myra, who now lives in MN, was raised in rural Texas in what might be considered a stereotypical rural Texas community. Her father was a college professor and physician. They moved around and each new place added layers to her diverse life experiences. She was the only African-American in her first yoga class. She spoke at great length about how her diverse experiences have allowed her to cultivate a more balanced perspective as she observes how groups of people sometimes hold one another suspect (or at least at arm’s length) and how we can get past those suspicions and stereotypes. When Bushlack, the podcast host, asked Myra about how people can be challenged to grow and become more gracious toward those who are different, she made the statement that really stuck with me: that “sometimes the best thing we can do is not make things worse.” Sounds a little like the Hippocratic oath, doesn’t it?
As a pastor, I fear that often Christian evangelism has made things worse. People are “preached at” rather than “dialogued with.” People are judged and “corrected.” I doubt that is ever very helpful. Certainly we want to spread the message of Jesus; but that message – at its core – is about love and grace.
Trinity continues to take deliberate steps to connect with our neighbors. We want to do so from a posture of hospitality and grace. Of course we want people to hear the gospel. We’d love for people to attend – even join – Trinity. But we need to start with hospitality and graciousness. Some people have had negative church experiences in the past. If they find the courage to step through our doors, we never want to make things worse. We want to begin with simple gestures of welcome and hospitality.
Over the next year, they’ll be many opportunities for you to volunteer at Trinity as we reach out to welcome our community. I hope you will be a part of these important efforts.
The Unseen City Tour is one of those opportunities. This year Trinity will be a stop on the Friends of Downtown Unseen City Tour on Thursday, May 17, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. We hope people will appreciate touring our beautiful, historic church building. But just as importantly, we hope they will feel welcomed by us when they walk through our doors.
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