I've not been here long enough to be able to take any credit for that - it's part of the DNA of the 2007-2012 "continuing congregation" that we've all inherited -- so I feel free to brag about it!
Extending a wide-open welcome to everyone is more than just good manners. As we'll see in this Sunday's gospel (and explore further in my sermon), the reason we, as a church, extend a wide-open welcome is biblically based -- particularly Jesus' vision for a faith community.
Jesus lifts our eyes to what a faith community can and should be.
He paints us a picture of the heavenly banquet, God's Kingdom come, God's will being done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
It's a place where the ways we normally define ourselves - wealth, occupation, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, politics - still exist, but are so far on the periphery of our focus that they don't really matter.
A commitment to hospitality means refusing to fall into the societal/cultural trap of dividing up the community.
We're far from perfect at it, but we do strive to be a place that transcends the differences and categories that define, and divide so much of our culture.
We strive to be a place and a people who know, from Jesus, that religious rules and regulations that perpetuate misunderstanding and human suffering, no matter how long they've been around, are not from God.
As disciples (apprentices) of Jesus, we strive to be a place and a people where "me first" attitudes are replaced by a willingness to serve.
And, inspired by the Gospel, we strive to be a place and a people that sees God's kingdom coming, God's loving will being done, right here in Falls Church, right now.