Exclusion, Inclusion and in-between

This week I had the chance to bring my closest friend to see Ella at school.  It was amusing – Ella kept introducing us as “my two moms”.  It was so wonderful to catch up with both of them, and to see Ella and one of her “other mothers” together.  She has no idea how large the village is that has raised her.

While we were together, we went to see Monsters University.  The film is a fun re-hash of one of the oldest themes in literature:  belonging.  Watching it as a mother brought back memories of the times when Ella wasn’t sure she fit in.  Watching it as a fifty-year-old woman brought back memories of the times when I KNOW I didn’t fit in.

There’s a reason why this is a theme that is developed again and again… it’s a common experience.  As I speak with the youth in my church, I hear their own tales of exclusion.  The youth telling these tales range from those considered to be the most popular in school, to your industry-standard geek.  We all seek to belong.  We all feel at some point that we do not.

Of course, there are huge variances in that experience, and bullying is very real and very painful.  However, the reason movies like Monsters U do well at the box office is because on some level, we all resonate with it.  Many of us eventually find a place to call home.  Some of us continue to search…. but I’ve become convinced that there is a place for just about everyone.

When I was Called to First Presbyterian almost thirteen years ago, I decided that our motto should be “A Light to the Nations”.  This played on so many levels.  We were the first church in the world to have electricity, AND we were a diverse congregation in a community of ‘many nations’.  The motto went on the newsletter, website and Sunday bulletin.  It’s true… but it doesn’t really reflect who we are.

Several years ago, a member of the church properly identified us as the “Church of Misfit Toys”.  Ask anyone who attends – and they will tell you it’s true.  That nomenclature is an apt description for what we are and who we are…. a church where, somehow, everyone belongs.  We each have our warts and our oddities, but in the end, we’ve found home.

Now I just need to change the stationery….

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