**We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, straight, gay, LGBTQIA+, filthy rich, dirt poor, or no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail, or could afford to lose a few pounds.
**We welcome you if you can sing like Bocelli or can’t carry a tune in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing”, just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you are more Lutheran than Martin Luther himself; or haven’t been to church since little Joey’s baptism or Sally’s wedding.
**We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up way too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, retired farmers, hedge fund managers, tree-huggers, latte sippers, vegetarians, computer nerds and junk-food eaters.
**We welcome those who are in recovery, or still addicted - some of us have also been there. We welcome you if you are having problems, or you’re down in the dumps, or if you don’t like “organized religion”-we’ve been there too. We welcome you if you are “spiritual” but not “religious” and if you are curious whether it’s possible to be both at once.
**If you blew your offering money in a football pool or online betting, you’re welcome here. We welcome you if you work too hard, or don’t work at all. We welcome you if you have a PHD, you work at Trader Joe’s, you can’t spel reel gud, or the job you have is killing you. We welcome you if you only came to church because Grandma is in town and you didn’t want to disappoint her.
**We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now. We welcome those who had religion shoved down their throats as kids, or maybe even as an adult. We welcome you if you wound up here by mistake, but since you are already here, you may as well stay for the service.
**We welcome tourists, seekers, doubters, and everybody on the edge of faith, which includes, well, pretty much all of us. Bottom line: WE WELCOME YOU!! We welcome you because we know that no matter who you are - Jesus Welcomes You! Oh, and also because we receive the welcome that Jesus offers. Everything begins to change for the better and keeps changing as long as we do and as long as we welcome others in His name!
(adapted from one used by Ascension Lutheran Church in Deer Park, NY)
Picture from First Congreational UCC, Albequerque, New Mexico