“The Dream of God”

David Rust commenting on “Radical Welcome” by Stephanie Spellers – CHURCH PUBLISHING INC. Kindle Edition.

I am proposing the following format to get discussion started on this blog. I will summarize in a few sentences a section of the book “Radical Welcome” and then add a few questions or comments of my own. Then, after you have read the same section, you are invited to post your comments on this blog related to the section of the book being discussed. I’d appreciate it if we avoided stating an opinion without knowing the context of the comments from the book. I trust that as we consider the book, we all remain open to the to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to possibly lead us to new insights rather than simply restating what we believed on the topic prior to reading the book. And so……

Pages 29 – 40: “The Dream of God”

“Why are congregations […] becoming radically welcoming? Why should any of us risk transformation? Quite simply because God did it first. From the beginning, God has been about the business of creating, reshaping, and making things new. The record of Scripture is filled with images of a God who turns things upside-down in order to get them right-side up, and creates something from what would seem to be nothing.
A warning: the new thing God is bringing to life is not “new” in the way we so often understand and fear it to be […]. “God is changing things so that they finally reflect the dream of God. It will be new to us, but it is merely the fulfillment of what God intended all along.” [Bishop Michael Curry]
And change they do. Jesus’ whole ministry — the whole account of God’s human life among us — is that of one who honors his tradition, but will not be bound by it if the dream of God demands something else.
And [Jesus] knew, as we struggle to acknowledge, that there is no way to have the dream without the transformation. The point is not to slog away in maintenance mode or to sit on the sidelines, pining for what was. The God of transformation invites us to “be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating” (Isaiah 65: 18). God yearns for us to be part of this new creation and to rejoice in its unfolding.
God invites us to share in that nature, not only by some pure, mystical connection to God in Christ, but through our flesh, blood and spirit relationships with one another.
God rejoices when we move beyond ourselves, beyond our hostility and ignorance and suspicion, past our “dividing walls” and into relationship with one another, signifying to the world that we are one reconciled body, the body of Christ. In this, we reflect the mutual relationship and union that is the very nature of Godself.
It is true that God stands with God’s people through every trial, but not so that they will sit comfortably with the privilege of apparent divine favor. Now they have to stand in solidarity with, graciously receive and welcome the vulnerable ones within their community and beyond it whom they might find it most difficult to accept: the orphan, the widow, the stranger, The Other. God has done it for them. Now they are called to respond in kind, literally imitating the God who graciously welcomed them.
God’s hospitality [is] the welcome that actively loves and receives us just as we are, despite every reservation, expectation or term we might set out, however strange we imagine ourselves to be, however far out we have been cast. That is Jesus’ hospitality, as he illustrates with seemingly every action, and nowhere more clearly than in his radically welcoming table fellowship. He invites lowly fishermen, unclean prostitutes, marginalized tax collectors, and insignificant widows to partake of the lavish feast he has come to offer all.
God has graciously, prodigally welcomed you, because it is in God’s very nature to seek you out and welcome you home when you feel the least worthy of embrace. Can you do likewise with others, entering solidarity with the outcast you find yourself least willing or able to receive? Can you make room within yourself to receive The Other?”

David’s comments:

I hear these thoughts, and I can see how Jesus wants to invite all to His community. But I am not yet anything like what Jesus wants in and of me. “Can you make room within yourself to receive The Other?” I am not sure I have even made room for Jesus, yet.

Your thoughts?


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