I have thoughts to share on the verb and adjective, welcome.
When you walk into my house there is a Cross-Stitch that says Witamy. In Polish, it means welcome. I got the cross stitch from my dad’s house after he died and I do not know of its origin; it was just always there.
In the musical, Cabaret, the MC sings “Willkommen” whose lyrics say welcome in many languages, besides its German title.
We roll out the welcome mat, literally and figuratively, when receiving visitors.
In decades past, neighborhoods would have Welcome Wagons show up to welcome new neighbors.
In UU circles, it sometimes refers to our curriculum, Welcoming Congregations, which teaches congregations how to be more inviting and safe—more welcoming—to people who are LGBTQ+ , many of whom are deciding if we will become their spiritual community.
Clearly, the concept of welcoming people is everywhere, in all places and times. The customs will differ, but the idea of welcoming in visitors, even strangers, is a human trait.
With the beginning of the church year, coinciding with a typical school year, welcome is on our minds, as it always is at new beginnings. This year I invite a new way to think of this time-honored tradition of WELCOME. Rather than it being a verb, to welcome somebody, turn it into an adjective that describes how it feels to be in that group, or in that place.
After years of being isolated from each other because of Covid, after years of living in a nation fractured by vastly differing politics, after years of cultural shifts around so many human issues…..when do you, yourself, truly know you are welcomed? When and where do you know that you can help somebody feel truly, fully welcomed somewhere?
My invitation is this: After the introduction, keep asking what would make somebody feel welcome (adjective) which is more than welcomed (verb) and then do it. Or even, let yourself state what you would need to be welcome, even if you have been in the group for years.
Welcome back to church!
In peace, Rev. Amy