All Are Welcome

-Bernadette Aylward

In a previous post I shared how much I love singing in church. It is a wonderful way to pray and certain songs have a way of getting stuck in your head. If you stop by the Goth Manor after church you’ll likely hear somebody whistling or humming the going out hymn. And some songs stay with you long after the last note ends. As I reflect on my year with Goth and the community we’ve created, I’m reminded of a song we sang at almost every school mass at my elementary school, Star of the Sea. It’s called All Are Welcome and can be found in the Gather hymnal, which we practiced taking out and putting away quietly each week. The words capture the ideals of any Christian community, and many of the things we have worked towards in our year together. I thought I’d share it with you today. Verse 1 is as follows:

 

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,

a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;

here the love of Christ shall end divisions.

All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

 

We arrived here 6 strangers, but have made a home where we love and care for each other in both concrete and abstract ways. Some of these are built into our Rule of life and others have developed organically into habits. And truly, all are welcome here.

I think what I love most about this song is its call to action-we are all called to build a house like this. The house could be a community like ours, a church community, a school, or a family. It is a challenge to be sure, but it is made actively, day by day. Our actions and choices can shape our surroundings for better or for worse. I’ll share the rest of the words to the song below-it is certainly appropriate for children but gives such wonderful touchstones for us all to think about.

If you’re curious, I’d say it’s a tie between All Are Welcome and We Are Called, another Star of the Sea favorite, for what song most accurately captures my faith life. Both run through my head a few times a week at moments of clarity and of confusion. Perhaps you also have a hymn of particular importance, whether for its great beauty, its message, or a particular memory it recalls. You might enjoy reflecting on why it has stuck with you and whether you remember it at particular times.

 

Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true, where all God’s children dare to seek to dream God’s reign anew.

Here the cross shall stand as witness and as symbol of God’s grace; here as one we claim the faith of Jesus. All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found in water, wine and wheat: a banquet hall on holy ground where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God, through Jesus, is revealed in time and space; as we share in Christ the feast that frees us. All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone to heal and strengthen, serve and teach, and live the Word they’ve known. Here the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face; let us bring an end to fear and danger.

All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.

Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace, let this house proclaim from floor to rafter.

All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

 

Text: Marty Haugen, b. 1950 Text © 1994 GIA Publications, Inc.

 

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