Many of our institutions have areas that we have deemed sanctuaries. By definition, these are places of safety and refuge. In these places we often refer to each other as sisters and brothers, our names are known. Everyone is welcome, we invite the strangers. No one is refused entrance and there is room for all. We tell our stories, celebrating and mourning together. We are the body of Christ.

It is in these very places that we identify rules of engagement that exclude, dehumanize and trivialize. We claim we are called to this by the Bible. Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s

We are all sinners having fallen short of the glory of God. We all need to continue to work diligently on our sinful nature before we start working on others. Could it be possible that we all need to work together in a supportive manner, picking each other up when we fall?

If we hide our sin and are shameful, it is hard to work on. Yet if we show our sin ask for forgiveness and turn to God, our sins are forgiven. When we turn, we may find others on the same road. It is easier when we travel together. Sometimes we forget our far we have come. Tenderness and mercy were given to us, we must give them to others or they become bitter and stale.

In our sanctuary, may the vulnerable find refuge from a harsh unforgiving world; may the outcast find safety from abuse, discrimination, and violence. In our sanctuary, may everyone be made whole and in the likeness of God. Here we can learn who we are; to whom we belong; the source of all blessings and comfort. Our name is known; our story is told, and there is a place for us at the table… God’s table. ALL ARE WELCOME!!!

Rev. Dellyne Hinton
Central Maryland Ecumenical Council