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Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
*Gospel of Matthew 21.12-13 (GNB)
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
*Revelation 22.17 (ESV)
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In south Florida, my last pastorate, I had a lay leader. The lay leader in that religious sect is a representative between the pastor and the congregation, a go-between. This person is chosen by the congregation based on his or her wisdom, dedication, and character.
Alvin was retired, had worked as a chemist, and was black. The congregation was, otherwise, all white. They had treated him as an equal, as simply one of them. That his skin was dark did not matter, at all.
Before Alvin became a member of this congregation, he had attended another upon moving there. He sat down in a pew to await the beginning of worship meeting. Later, a member walked up to him, informed him that was her pew, he was to move.
Alvin never returned to that congregation. He visited the one I was to serve as pastor, and he found a welcome, a spiritual home to belong, to be Alvin and respected for being Alvin. I have told persons that congregation missed having a wonderful being to bless them, but their loss became our gift.
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I simply cannot equate Jesus and Christ, or Buddha, or Grace, or Love with roped off prayer rooms and persons unwelcoming a visitor to his or her sanctuary from a pew. This, too, like the many churches I have been in that would welcome only human beings of the male order to be pastor, or those that welcomed their color but did not welcome persons of color.