Accessible to All
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murders, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us - and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 1 John 3:11-16 (NRSV)
As God's household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 (CEB)
Rachel Cywinski lives in Texas. In 2016 she planned a visit to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. She wanted to go to this church to be in solidarity with the congregation who had suffered a horrendous attack the previous year.
A few weeks before her visit, Rachel realized that as a historic structure, the church building might be inaccessible to her because she uses a wheelchair. In a panic, Rachel found the church's website, saw the mention of plans for wheelchair access, and dialed the number provided. The person who answered the phone explained that when donations arrived after the tragic event of the previous year, the church decided to complete an exterior elevator that connects the buildings levels. She assured Rachel of access and a welcome.
When Rachel arrived at the church, a woman warmly invited her to a seat next to her. After the service, she took Rachel's hands in hers and had her promise to come to the church every time she visited Charleston. Now each time Communion is served, Rachel thinks not only of Jesus but of how Emanuel A.M.E. welcomed her without hesitation. Even after the unjust deaths of nine church members, the congregation continued to open their doors and make their sanctuary accessible to all.
Prayer: God of mercy, we give thanks for your abiding love. Give us courage to open our doors and our hearts to the world, in Jesus' name. Amen.