All Are Welcome! “The ‘Welcoming’ Church/Christian”

Welcome to my blog! I welcome you no matter your political ideology, sexual orientation, gender identify, faith/religion, race, sex, age, nationality, or immigration status. Before beginning my service year I completed an amazing week long training and orientation through the Young Adult Program. A similar statement was made and it really hit me.

Typically churches/organizations don’t make this statement however, all churches/organizations are welcoming, that is not to say that all people are welcome!

I believe that it is important to make a statement of who is welcome; either to a conversation that is being had or to a service. As a person who’s two biggest intersectionalities in life  are my faith and sexual orientation this is an important statement. My past church experience (this was early 2000’s) was unsurprisingly terrible. My story is not uncommon, as sad as it is. What does make my experience slightly different is that I came back. I came back to the same welcoming and loving God however, I came back to a different community and church. Just like my last community/church they told me who was welcome…EVERYONE. This is important to myself, and I also know that it is important to folks who are not heterosexual or identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. I believe this welcome statement should be made by a church. If a person has not been welcomed in the past going back to church, particularly a new one, can seriously be a terrifying experience. This statement does not need to be a grand show you put on every Sunday prior to a service, although if you feel the spirit moves you in such a way then you do you. It can be a banner hung outside saying “All Are Welcome,” hand some flyers out/put up signs, put it in a bulletin, or some other way that people know this.

So frequently when you ask a non-church goer who goes to church you will get the response of the “righteous,” if that is the case those pews better be empty as well as the pulpit. Just gonna drop a classic here, “for all have sinned and fall short the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The House of God is meant for all; the right, the wrong, and the indifferent. It does not matter if you are white or a person of color, who you love, what gender you do or do not identify with.

What matters in my opinion is your love for God, people, and to the wonderment about the word and world of God.

Peace and Love,
Lukus Ebert

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Where is God?

WHERE IS GOD?

I don’t know how many times in my life I have asked this question. I do remember the first time I asked this question though. I was 10 years old and my parents told my brother, sister, and I that dad was “moving out.” I immediately was angry, hurt, sad, scared, and pretty much any other negative emotion one can have. I prayed to God to make my parents love each other again and let my life go back to the way it was. I got nothing. Fast forward five years I had to begrudgingly tell my mother I was gay. I had an immense fear that she would reject me. My fear was validated when my mother started crying, and when I asked her why she was crying, since this wasn’t really about her. She responded and crushed my world, spirit, and faith in God with just one sentence. “I am sad because you don’t get to join the family in heaven when you die.” I sat stunned for what felt like an eternity before asking my mother to leave me alone for awhile. When she left the only thing I could think to do was pray to God. I prayed for God to tell me what to do, to comfort me, to change my mother’s views. I prayed so much to God to CHANGE ME, make me “normal” so my mother, my church/pastor, and other people who turned their backs on me would love me again. I waited, and waited, and waited for a sign or an answer. I didn’t feel like I was asking for much I didn’t need a burning bush, shoot I would take a smoldering stick. Again I got nothing. So I was done. I left the church, threw my bible away, and I lost all love for the world that day. I kinda gave up on God because where was God when I was in need? Where was God!?

Despite this giving up I continued to do “check-ins” with God mostly just out of habit, and a little bit out of hope. I quit praying for my life to return to some sense of normalcy again. I quit being angry I just became numb. A couple years later I was walking on the Linear Trial in Manhattan, KS, and doing one of my “check-ins.” I told God I was done fighting and arguing , done being numb to the world, and done caring about the thoughts of others toward me. I was gonna let my life go wherever God lead it. After saying that I immediately got chills and then this sudden sense of calm and inner peace washed over me. At that moment I was back with God, but in a stronger way than I was prior to coming out. My love for God and the world came back with such a powerful force the only thing I could do was cry and thank God. I now always pray to God to give me feet like Christ to go where God calls, eyes like Christ to see the need in the world, a heart like Christ to have love for God’s world and for people, and lastly hands like Christ to do the needed work to healing broken people in a broken world.

Let’s jump ahead about 8 years to September 8th 2016. I was walking with one of my housemates downtown in Austin and on one of the blocks  I had seen something I was definitely not used to however, I had seen something similar in South America. There were a few blocks where the homeless population tend to congregate, and for more than a few this was their home. They were outside two shelters waiting for nighttime to come in hopes that they would get a bed.

So frequently when “we” (people who have much more privilege than others) see sad pictures of people in poverty or war-torn countries we ask ourselves “where is God” or make a statement like “if only they believed more in God or in the ‘right’ God they wouldn’t be there.” Here is the deal puddin’-pop that is not the right question or statement. It doesn’t matter the person’s level of belief or what they believe ALL people deserve love and compassion. It is not where is God, but where are God’s people? As a Christian (if this applies to you) or just a global citizen it is our responsible to care for one another. It is not God who put those people in their situations. It was people. It was leaders. It was a system of oppression put in a long time ago that we allow to continue. The homeless people downtown close enough to the Capitol that you could see most of the dome, just blocks away. In South America the slum was right next to the Capitol. These places are supposed to make laws to care for its people, but here we are. Why should they care though right? I mean if that person begging for money or help would just “pull themselves up from their bootstraps” and/or “get a job” the problem would be solved, right? Here is the problem with this ideology. A person who isn’t eating much or healthy can’t think about getting a job. A person who doesn’t have access to shower or laundry facilities can’t shower or have clean clothes for a job interview. So no they can not “pull themselves up from their bootstraps.”

I will tell you where God is…God is everywhere. God is in everyone, we just have to do the work. So I ask you where are the people?! Where is the person volunteering at a local soup kitchen/charity? Where is the person giving up a few of their dollars to a person asking for help? Or where is the person demanding change and care from the leaders?

WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE? WHERE AM I? WHERE ARE YOU?

Peace and love,
Lukus

The Squirrel and The Creek

Today started out in a somewhat predictable way, in the sense of I knew the schedule; I showered, ate a quick breakfast, grabbed a bus to a new destination, slammed a large coffee, and went to a beautiful place called Barton Springs. I opted out of the swimming and took a walk to reconnect with nature and talk with God. I was walking silently when I heard some squeaking like I had never heard before. I went to investigate and I found that there was a squirrel clinging to a rock (I can only assume he fell from one of the trees hanging over the water) and squeaking in distress as water rushed around it. I quickly threw my shoes and socks off, and started to shuffle across the moss covered ledge as water rushed across my feet and around me, a three foot drop to my left and to my right. I got off the wall and waded to the bank to get a branch. I got back on the wall, shuffled quickly back getting the squirrel to get on the branch, and lifted the branch above the water and headed back to the bank. After wading one last time through the waist deep rushing water, I got the branch and the squirrel back on dry land. The squirrel and I rested for about five minutes before he scurried up a tree, and I continued on the path on the other side of the water from where I started, but wait there’s more. The side that I ended up on was completely fenced off…so back across the rushing water and slippery ledge.

Why do I share this story? In hopes that you think of me as some Squirrel Saving Saint? No, although, that would be cool and unique. I share this story because as I walked back to the entrance of the trail I was thinking about that squirrel’s life and its recent events, and how I can relate to that feeling of what life can feel like. It can feel terrifying, overwhelming, and sometimes like you might drown. Over this past six months I have had several life changes some intentional, and others not. I recently followed where God was calling me, which in itself can be overwhelming and terrifying. I moved to Austin, TX. I left a place I called home my entire life. I left behind friends, family, my church family, my car, an apartment, 95% of my worldly possessions, and the most stable job I have ever had. I have found myself trying not to slip on the moss covered ground as water rushes around me and over me. I have the occasional twig bumping into me, avoiding quickly moving branches, and stones lying in the way. All of this to get to another side that is completely uncertain and unseen. So frequently I find myself in the squirrel’s place, clinging to a rock as water rushes by me and splashes me, and all I can do is wait and hope for rescue. Thankfully my rescuer isn’t some guy who is freaking out cussing most of the way as he almost slips I don’t know how many times. So who is this amazing rescuer of mine?!

My rescuer is God! Yes, I have friends and family who also rescue me at times. God though is always there even in my doubt and fear. It was my faith in God that helped get me through my year and a half of homelessness, got me clean of a terrible addiction, and despite failing out of college my first year got me through to graduation 5 years later and with a GPA over 3.2. And now I have faith in God that I will complete this year successfully. Although this year will have its rocks and branches on this slippery moss covered path called life, as will the rest of my life, I know that if I keep my faith in God and continue to love God, love people, and love the world this little squirrel will make it across to the other bank.

Peace and Love,
Lukus