Our slogan at UDLC is “The Welcome Church”. And indeed, our congregation is known for its sincere, authentic welcome to the visitors in our midst. It’s an area where we excel. So it is no accident, then, that this hymn’s text fits our church community perfectly as we strive to continue our friendly greeting.
Marty Haugen, author and composer, originally wrote 13 stanzas for this hymn, which he edited down to five for inclusion in hymnals. The first four represent the four sections of worship – Gathering, Word, Meal, Sending – and the final stanza wraps them all together in one summary verse.
While this hymn can function in any of the four sections, it’s used today as the Sending Hymn because of its fourth stanza, as it sends us into the world to serve God through serving the “other”:
All are welcome in THIS place, whether it be at our communion table where pastors each Sunday invite all who would hunger after Christ, in our homes, in the work place, on the streets. God – through each of us – welcomes all to this place, right here, right now. There’s an urgency about it that encourages us to be welcoming to whomever we meet, wherever we are.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, may we show God’s love and grace to all we greet.