Thursday, April 17, 2008

Papal Visits and Loving Welcomes

I arrived in Fairbanks late Tuesday and had an opportunity yesterday morning to walk the streets of downtown and get a sense of the community. I met with clergy and church leadership in the afternoon and evening. While I've been here, I've also caught glimpses of the Pope's visit on TV- at the White House, at National Stadium - and the splendor of the settings and the beautiful spring weather is glorious. A top notch welcome for the Prince of the Church -all ceremony and folks on their best behavior.

In my brief stay here, I have shared food and stories with folks who are serving their communities and serving God with all their beings. They each have led so many funerals and have faced enormous challenges such as suicides and family violence in their communities. And yet, they are gracious and welcoming, thankful to God for their call to serve, able to have love in Christ that grows each day. Incredible Christian leaders who welcomed me in their midst as part of the family.

I am touched by their witness and their work and especially grateful for their sharing of their lives and challenges. I felt, when listening to them, that I was hearing the heart of God, the compassion of our Savior, the living lives of saints who daily offer their all for the reign of God. There is no ceremony that would replace this welcome of being part of such a loving and caring community. With limited finances they do spectacular things.

May we all be welcomed into the family of God today, not as princes or guests or strangers, but as a family member, ready to pitch in and help carry the load. May we all have the strength to set ceremony aside and look on each other as the face of Christ, present among us, calling us to labor in the fields.

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