There’s a cumulative moment, towards the end of Paul’s letter to the deeply divided church in Rome, where he exhorts them to ‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 15:7). By and with and in Jesus, the Gentiles had been included within God’s expanding people; but the house churches of Rome were divided along ethnic and cultural lines, Christians of Jewish and of Greco-Roman heritage. And Paul writes, Welcome one another. Receive one another. Take one another in to yourselves. Just as Christ welcomed you. Received you. Has taken you into himself.
Mary gives birth to her firstborn son in the room shared by her husband’s family, because there is not enough room for her to give birth, attended by the women of the house, in the guest room where the newly-weds were sleeping. In the main room, shared at night by humans and their livestock, there was room. Room for Jesus to be born, to be welcomed…but first and foremost, room for Jesus to welcome us. To welcome you.
In this expanding welcome, all my ancestors are welcomed in me, just as I shall be welcomed in my descendants. All those whose choices, and restricted choices, have benefited and impaired me. All those who will be benefited or impaired by my choices. In this welcome, constraints run to the third or fourth generation, and blessing unto thousands.
Hope is the conviction that in the end all shall be well. More, that we shall all be witnesses on that Day, when the Sun of Righteousness dawned for those living in darkness and the shadow of death.