Include me out!


Let us build a house where love can dwell

and all can safely live,

a place where saints and children tell

how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions,

rock of faith and vault of grace;

here the love of Christ shall end divisions:

All are welcome, all are welcome,

all are welcome in this place.

I have to admit to liking this hymn a lot. Here are words we want to believe in, something that we are doing in our local church - warm, comforting, fuzzy even. And that's the problem: inclusion is NOT conformtable. When we think (or sing) about inclusion, there is an assumption that it is an easy thing, where we remain as we are and others come and join us without disturbing the statu quo we have created. That's not inclusion; it's a gathering of the like-minded, a dinner party with our friends.

Inclusion is a messy place with messed up people. It is having to sit next to people who might not share our views or our hygiene habits. It is taking seriously people that society has already written off. It is serving others who have nothing to offer in return. It is going beyond the exterior of rhetoric or people's pasts to live in reality. And it is being willing to acknowledge that we have a need to be with people we don't like because, without them, the Church - and we - are incomplete.

That's not to say that there is no place for exclusion. As Barbara Glasson often says: Where all a