Author Alice Walker has written a story that goes something like this.
An old black woman gets up one Sunday morning, puts on her Sunday best, and sets out for church. She sees the steeple and heads toward it. She walks up the steps and people stare at her, some just stunned, others muttering unkind words under their breath. In the vestibule, the pastor speaks to her: “Now, Auntie, you know this isn’t your church.” She brushes right past him. Sitting down in a pew, she looks at a stained glass window, and sings a hymn in her head. The usher, who has never before put someone out of church, uncomfortably asks her to leave. But she ignores him, simply muttering, “Go away.” The women of the congregation turn to their husbands and demand that they do something. So the men lift up the old woman by her arms, and throw her out into the street.
The woman’s skin color excluded her from that church. It’s a powerful story that confronts all of us with the question: Are there people we, intentionally or unintentionally, exclude from the worship of God?
Gracious God, protect us from the sin of exclusion. Amen.