I am processing this idea of receiving those who stand at the gates. I really get that part. I don't always do it right, but I get it. We can always be working on how accepting we are within the church. We should always consider how welcoming we can be in a congregation.
It is about radical hospitality.
However, what about those who never come to the gate? Do you know what I mean? What is the church's role to those who feel lost or left out and approaching the gate is the last thing on their agenda? The people who never make it to the door of the church because of fear or doubt. They don't reach out or even make a peep (that is in honor of the sugary products this Easter season!). They stay hidden in their homes and work places, yet are craving a relationship with their creator. Maybe they have had an active relationship with the church at one time and they have been disappointed. So, now they stand a safe distance from those gates.
And maybe they question why no one has reached out.
Sometimes we are so busy with those that walk in the door or at least turn around in the parking lot, can we really be responsible for those that we are not even aware need us? And if we did schedule some time in our Blackberrys (okay, iPhones) to reach out to those who are quietly questioning faith, how do we know who they are? Okay then if we know who they are and we are aware of the need, how do we reach out? We don't want to step on toes and they have made no hint that they may need to hear of these "gates of righteousness" in which we speak. Really it is none of our business to go there.
Or is it our business?
If the church really buys this thing about an empty tomb more than just a time to fill some pews and pass out some colored eggs to some children, what does that mean? Because of the passionate love of God and the sacrificial gift of Christ, isn't it the business of the church to keep an eye open, an ear to the ground or at least a hand stretched out?
No matter how uncomfortable it gets to go where we are not sure we are invited, we are called to step outside the gates. It is mandatory that the people of the church figure out how to share the incredible news of a savior. It is a good thing that we put on our red (blue, purple, green, yellow) vest and greet people at the gate. It is a wonderful thing to make our churches a place of acceptance and hospitality. However, I think the "radical" part of hospitality means taking one more step and praying about who it is in our worlds that need directions to the gates or maybe even a hand to hold as they walk to the gates of righteousness.
There are people, broken people who fear the gates and they need a friend to say "it can be well with your soul".
Who is going to be that friend? I want to be that kind of radical.