In the Company of Strangers

“In my view, the mission of the church is not to enlarge membership, not to bring outsiders to accept its terms, but simply to love the world in every possible way—to love the world as God did and does.
The body of Christ is a network of organic connections between people,  connections  which make one’s joy another’s joy, one’s suffering another’s suffering. In this sense,  everyone, Christian or otherwise, is included in the body of Christ—included not within an organizational framework or theological point of view, but included within a community of compassion. I do not believe the church enters into the public realm to aggrandize itself, but to glorify God; and God is glorified as we manifest the unity in which we were created without dishonoring the diversity we have become. If we are able to love the world,  that will be the best demonstration of the truth which the church has been given.”

“If the church is to serve as a school of the Spirit, and as a bridge between the private and the public realms, it must find ways of extending hospitality to the stranger. I do not mean coffee hours designed to recruit new members to the church, for these are aimed at making the stranger “one of us.” The essence of hospitality—and of the public life—is that we let our differences, our mutual strangeness, be as they are, while still acknowledging the unity which lies beneath them.”

From THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS by Parker Palmer

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