Statement of Welcome of Faith✟Journey Lutheran Church
The gathered people of God who have been given the name Faith✟Journey desire it to be publicly known that all people are welcome to attend and be involved in the life of this congregation regardless of life history, present circumstance or self identity.
We affirm that all creation is broken and falls short of God’s call to discipleship, that all people are to be disciples, servants, and caretakers. We affirm that we do not love as we are loved. We affirm that we turn against God’s way in our actions and in our inactions, by what is done and undone. Our confession is simple and clear - “we have not loved You with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves…”
However, Jesus tells us that we are not to condemn one another and that no human can sit in the seat of God - judging the worthiness of one person over another (Matthew 7:1). To assume that we know the mind and heart of God concerning those unlike us is to violate the 1st Commandment. It is not our place to determine where some one might or might not stand in God’s eyes. This is beyond our ability to know. While we might disagree with someone lifestyle, identity, politics, economics or sexuality - we are never to allow ourselves to slip from disagreement to judgement. There is only one “Judge of the Soul” and that is God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed to us in the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture.
St. Paul tells us that all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 2:23) and while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8). That’s us - all of us. Christ did not die for us after we showed signs of “getting it all together.” Christ loved and still shows love to us while we are yet sinners - actively rebelling against God - in thought, word, and deed. It was not God’s intent that we live our lives in a way that would gain salvation, rather we should live our lives knowing that we have already been saved, loved, and redeemed by God and allow that reality to guide our behavior, our attitude and our words.
We are reminded in Scripture that we are to live out our salvation every single day - working it out with fear and trembling, awestruck by God's amazing love and grace (Philippians 2:12). We should live our lives welcoming others as Jesus welcomed us and our lives ought to be led "not think(ing) of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." (Romans 2:3 NRSV).
Additionally - we are to, "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 2:9-18 NRSV)
We do not attend worship or connect with a faith community in order to earn points with God so that God will love us and grant us the reward of eternal life in God’s kingdom. We attend worship out of love and devotion for God’s overwhelming gifts that God freely pours out upon us.
We reject prosperity theologies which state that God materially rewards the faithful and, at best, ignores the need of the unfaithful. We reject all theologies which state that our standing with God is based upon what we do or don’t do, our quality of worship or prayer, or our ability to ascend to a theological construct with the right mind and the right soul.
We reject racism and sexism in all its forms. We celebrate the uniqueness of each person, created in the likeness and image of God. We believe that God is the author of life and that all people deserve the love and dignity that God has bestowed upon them while God watched their bones being knit together. (Psalm 139)
Since God did not and does not condition who may receive God’s unconditional love, since God does not condition who may receive the love of Christ (John 3:16) - we at Faith✟Journey Lutheran Chuch cannot and will not condition who may attend worship, connect with the congregation, and be community with us. We recognize that all people do not have the same journey in life and, no matter what your journey is, we join you as you your journey leads to the deeper love of God and neighbor.
At the same time, we recognize our own brokenness. We know that there will be times that we will not live out this statement as fully as we should. We pray that we may all may know the love and reconciliation that God offers us and that we avail ourselves of the grace that we have been given.
In conclusion, we want to be clear that because we welcome all people, we do not condone all behavior. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to strive for the better things and a more excellent way of living. All of us are on a journey of discipleship and we all are discerning the impact of being made new creations in the love of Christ. On this journey we are called to love and care for one another.
We pray that God will guide us, bestow God’s grace upon us all, and welcome all people as we have been welcomed by God.