The Statue of Liberty stands as an icon of freedom and represents the ideal of the open doors of America as we offer refuge and safety to those in need. A poem by Emma Lazarus is located there as well and contains the well known words, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Those words are powerfully inviting as they offer hope for new beginnings and a place to make a home.
As I meditated on that poem this past week, I felt those words should be used to describe the Church as well. We should be a people offering refuge, safety, rest, and the grace of Christ to those in need regardless of their social background, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, skin color, and past life choices. Perhaps this poem by Emma Lazarus could be modified to more accurately define the church's welcoming mentality:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your captive masses straining to be free from the heavy weight of sin,
The rejected, recovering, confused, skeptical, and sinful.
Send me your depressed, addicted, disadvantaged, neglected, and forgotten.
Send those who are wandering looking for a home, tossed back and forth by the misguided intent of those who should be speaking love instead of hate.
Send those searching for acceptance, genuine compassion, a life filled with purpose, and a safe haven from lies, abuse, discrimination, and legalism.
We are Christ’s church and we lift His lamp as a comforting light to all who choose to enter.