"Whosoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whosoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."At the center of the christian experience is this idea of being ready to receive anyone at anytime as if you were receiving Jesus himself. In fact, three out of the five affirmations here at St. Mary's have to do with creating a welcoming sanctuary full of acceptance and care. You might recognize that this is a very high standard for community, but it's a standard that has been an important pillar of both the monastic and lay life of Christians.
One of the fist Christians to put heavy emphasis on being welcoming was St. Benedict of Nursia. He is considered by many to be the founder of ascetic life in the Christian tradition. His community lived by strict observance to what is commonly called the Benedictine Rule. Chapter 53 of the rule emphasized that guests are meant to be welcomed with gracious hospitality and be treated and protected while under the monastery's care. In other words, anyone in need who comes to the door of a Benedictine establishment must be received. In some ways Benedict's rule is the philosophical foundation for hospitals and emergency rooms.
We live in a community where we are use to being a minority, in fact, In Utah county congregations like ours make up only 1% of the population. Because of this we know what its like to be excluded, discouraged, discriminated against, and ignored. Here in Utah, Episcopalians don't set the rules. We live in a majority culture as a small small minority. This experience helps us to know what it's like to be forgotten and in need of community, and because we know what it's like we must be the ones who reach out with welcoming and hospital arms.
In conclusion we should consider one last story. When the savior was gathering in disciples he was surrounded by those whom he referred to as his " little ones." Literally he used the Greek word micron. This word denotes more than smallness, it also gives the connotation of insignificance. There are some members of our community who we might consider "small" and "insignificant" from a social perspective. These are the ones that we must welcome into the Church—The marginalized, the rejected, and the discouraged.