A couple of weeks ago, while attending Trinity Episcopal Church in Meredith, New Hampshire, with my brother, Pete, a man sitting a couple of pews in front of us went to the front of the small church to present the week's "Ministry Minute." He said:
'In nearly every community in the United States there is the same sign. The sign is significant in its simplicity and in its message. What it says is "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You." That is what it says wherever you find it, in New Hampshire, California or Texas.
There are two words that are conspicuously absent from the sign. The two words are "except" and "unless." You will not find either of those words on the front or on the back of the sign or even in tiny fine print. You will not find, after the words "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" the words "unless you interpret the Bible differently than we do" or "except if you are a gay or lesbian person who has been elected bishop." The sign says simply and in a way God intends us all to understand, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You – No Exceptions, No Unless."'
This goes to the heart of our mark of the distinctive presence of the Anglican Church in any community. We forget it at our peril: what makes us worth our existence as a denomination is the grace, the openness, the plain Christlikeness of our witness and our love.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11.28-30)
All you that are weary.
He also said, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6.35)
And he said this too: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11.25-27)
Who are we to close a door our Lord has thrown wide, to put a price on the gift of eternal life?