Warm and Welcoming?

            Burt Bacharach and Hal David composed these words: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone.”

            In 1965, those two men sat down and penned those amazing words, hoping and praying that their generation would leave racial inequality, war, poverty, and the basic human condition of selfishness in the past.

            Here we are 54 years later. The world still finds love in short commodity. Hate, antisemitism, racism, anti-LGTBQ, and xenophobic rhetoric have captured our society again.

            Inclusion is the missing element. Inclusion is central to unconditional love. Building a community that is warm and welcoming has to have unconditional love at the cornerstone of its foundation.

            Being warm and welcoming isn’t just for those who look like you, think like you, speak like you, act like you, and love like you. Being warm and welcoming has to start with those who are not you – those very people who think unlike you, worship unlike you, love unlike you, live unlike you; act, vote, marry, and look unlike you. The very people who are – in fact – very different from you.

            Love is the hardest lesson to teach, but it is the only lesson worth learning. Love is the most controversial subject that people of faith can discuss.

            We are commanded to love God with all of our hearts. Doing so includes loving all of God’s children – all of us; those like us, and those unlike us – with all of our hearts too.

            Love is difficult, yet beautiful. Love is complicated, yet freeing.

            Love is the answer to all of our prayers.

            Love is the welcoming community.

– Imam Chartier