The Family Table, The Place We All Belong: God’s Heart of Welcome
This page is part of a larger series titled The Family Table: The Place We All Belong, a sermon series on the 10 dimensions of belonging. To see the full list of topics, visit the Belonging Sermon Series page.
This sermon can be preached on its own or as part of the full series on belonging.
The dimension of belonging for this sermon: Present.
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Key Idea: Belonging begins with being welcomed.
Our welcome of others flows from God’s heart of welcome for all peoples. The Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists forever in eternal communion. The Triune God was present with his people in the temple. In the Incarnation, Christ tabernacles among us so that he may save us. Because of Christ, we belong to him and to one another.
Dimension of Belonging: Present.
To be present is to be there. People with disabilities are a part of all the things you offer as a congregation and all the places where people gather, just like anyone else. To be present to others is not simply to be alongside them; it is to recognize them for who they are and to learn what it means to love them.
What do these Scripture passages say?
Biblical Foundation of Welcome
- Nature of Trinity—He has existed forever with the indwelling communion of the Trinity. Ephesians 4:4-6
- God desired to be present with His people, in the Temple. Exodus 25:8, 33:11.
- Christ being present with us. John 1:1-5; 14.
- The Gospel and the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21
- God’s welcome to us is through Jesus Christ. Because of Christ, we belong to Him and we belong to one another. Acts 4:32-35
So what? Why is this important?
God’s heart of welcome is for all peoples. God calls us into a relationship with Him. We are to be in relationship with one another: all ages, all abilities, all ethnicities, gathered around the Table. There are many individuals and families impacted by disability in our community who have not found a place at the table. Part of the body of Christ is missing.
Now What? What must I/we do now?
Be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts through this series so that our church becomes a community that embodies Christ-like love so that all belong.
Watch: Carried to the Table Faith Church, Dyer, IN (4:01)
Participate in a Guided Reflection following the sermon (5 minutes), a three-part exercise:
- A Prayer for the Holy Spirit to lead and show us: Who is/has been missing? (quiet listening prayer)
- Scripture Reading: Acts 4:32-35
- What are we willing to do about it? (Guided prayer)
Setting the Stage by Setting the Table
Literally set a table as if for a fine dinner with grand company in your place of worship (see what we did at First Presbyterian Church Aurora).
During songs, use praise streamers with colors representing Father, Son, Holy Spirit (gold, red and white, respectively).
Intentional Greeting Time
Intentionally have greeting time, a moment to acknowledge each one who is present.
- One from within your congregation: someone who had not made it to the table for some time but is now present. Think about stories from people with visible and hidden disabilities and mental health challenges.
- The story of a pastor: his friend asked this pastor to come to conduct his 5-year-old son’s funeral, as the family had no pastor or church, but had found a church that was willing to allow them to use the building for the funeral. His son’s disabilities had been what kept the family from being welcomed into the churches in their area (until the boy’s body was welcomed as it came to the church in a casket).
We tried this at First Presbyterian Church Aurora…
The congregation sang the Song of Response while a family “finished setting the table” (we literally had an heirloom dining table on the stage) as a response to the message.
See it here. (Click on the message dated 1-03-21, and you’ll see this segment at 1:01:00).