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By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘All’ as in… liberty and justice for all.

My parents have been on my mind lately. I’ve been wondering what Joyce would have thought about not only the ‘state of the State’ but what in the world is going on in the world. I can hear her saying it even now: “Lord, have mercy!” And you know what? She would have really meant that.

I was recently recalling my dad’s utter disdain for an organization that refused to admit to membership a good friend of his based on his skin color. My dad returned home from an Elks Club meeting and was visibly irritated. A good friend of our family, a good friend from our church community, a good friend to many people in town, my dad’s good friend – my dad’s African American friend – was not allowed to join the Elks Club.

My dad could join, but my dad’s friend could not join. The Elks would not welcome a black man into membership.

When I asked my dad why they wouldn’t let him join, he simply replied, “Because he’s black.”

I don’t remember much else from that conversation, but I do remember the sense of disbelief that “Because he’s black” would be a reason for anyone not being able to do anything anywhere. I could see it in his face: righteous indignation. For a 10 or 11 year old kid, it was like saying someone couldn’t join my tree fort club because their shoes were the wrong brand.

Wait, what? It’s unconscionable that the same thing is still happening today.

The necessary, difficult and even exhausting work of self-reflection on all of this – what our friends in the recovering community call “the searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” is taking me all the way back to the faith community where the values of “liberty and justice for all” were being woven into my life.

But oddly, it was that same faith community that was able to fully embrace our black friends into fellowship that was simultaneously unable to fully embrace women in leadership. Sure, mothers and sisters could teach Sunday School and work on various committees. But serving as elected leaders was “not allowed” simply because they were women.

Neither was serving the bread at communion. Once again, wait, what?

In the Gospels, women are integral to the entire Jesus movement – a movement led by a dark-skinned religious minority refugee. Jesus praised his sisters for the ways they made the Kingdom of God a reality on earth as in heaven. As Jesus took his last breaths on the cross, the men ran for their lives while the women stood by faithfully sharing both the bread and the cup of that horrendous moment. What’s more, it was the women who were the first to witness the meaning of the resurrection: “Everything will be different from now on!”

Liberty and justice for all means freedom and equity for everyone – no exceptions. Brothers, bring all your friends. Sisters, bring the bread and the wine.

All are welcome! Christ is fully present. Lord, have mercy!


Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where be blogs about a different word each day. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche), or on his blog, Thriving Rhythms.

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