The gospel is before all else a call to live differently, so that life can be shared with others. —Richard Rohr
The absolute religious genius of Jesus is that he utterly refuses all debt codes, purity codes, religious quarantines, and the searching for sinners. He refuses to divide the world into the pure and the impure, much to the chagrin of almost everybody—then and now. —Richard Rohr
The Eucharistic meal is meant to be a microcosmic event, summarizing at one table what is true in the whole macrocosm: we are one, we are equal in dignity, we all eat of the same divine food, and Jesus still and always “eats with sinners.” —Richard Rohr
Jesus’s identity as one of the least of these is not a romantic, charitable notion; it is Jesus’s reality. The homeless, the poor, the incarcerated are Jesus’s friends, family, disciples, and followers, and Jesus himself. —Jessica C. Williams
I found a sense of kinship with my LGBTQIA+ colleagues, and my heart expanded. Their stories and their struggles converted me from “What does the Bible say?” to new questions: What is the context in which the Bible says that? And does that make sense? And is that right? And does it square with Love? —Jacqui Lewis
Fellowship is a kind of belonging that isn’t based on status, achievement, or gender, but instead is based on a deep belief that everyone matters, everyone is welcome, and everyone is loved, no conditions, no exceptions. —Brian McLaren
A Litany of Belonging
At many of the Center’s conferences, we read the following call and response with those gathered, both in person and online. We invite you to read it aloud to yourself and feel truly welcomed—all parts of you, especially those that culture or church have denigrated.
We would like to let you know that you belong:
People on all parts of the continuum of gender identity and expression, including those who are gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, cisgender, queer folks, the sexually active, the celibate, and everyone for whom those labels don’t apply. Response: I belong.
People of African descent, of Asian descent, of European descent, of First Nations descent in this land and abroad, and people of mixed and multiple descents and of all the languages spoken here. Response: I belong.
Bodies with all abilities and challenges. Those living with any chronic medical condition, visible or invisible, mental or physical. Response: I belong.
People who identify as activists and those who don’t. Mystics, believers, seekers of all kinds. People of all ages. Those who support you to be here. Response: I belong.
Your emotions: joy, fear, grief, contentment, disappointment, surprise, and all else that flows through you. Response: I belong.
Your families, genetic and otherwise. Those dear to us who have died. Our ancestors and the future ones. The ancestors who lived in this land, in this place, where these buildings are now . . . we honor you through this work that we are undertaking. Response: I belong.
People who feel broken, lost, struggling; who suffer from self-doubt and self-judgment. Response: I belong.
All beings that inhabit this earth: the two-legged, the four-legged, winged and finned, those that walk, fly, and crawl, above the ground and below, in air and water. Response: I belong.
Adapted from Diversity Welcome, Training for Change.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on growing into belonging.
- Listen to Jacqui Lewis and Wajahat Ali discuss loving yourself unconditionally on Love. Period.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image Credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 10-12 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image Inspiration: The two outside photos in this triptych can appear spare, bare, or apart. The photo in the middle brings together a collection of unique items supported by the table. What happens when we are intentional about connection, or together-ing, rather than other-ing?
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.