A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge for the poor and decide with equity for the oppressed of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
(Isaiah 11: 1 – 5)
The Methodist Church is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming church. It's sometimes true that we find it much easier to be around people who are just like us, who look and think like we do. The events of Christmas though show us that even at the very beginning there was room for difference. The Wise Men or Magi followed a star on their long journey to find the infant Jesus and worship him. They probably came from what is now Iran and they were different not just because of the place they came from but also because unlike Mary and Joseph they weren't Jewish and they were astrologers, something forbidden for those who practised the Jewish faith. Yet God chose to send a message to the wise men written in the stars and they chose to respond and follow that new star that had appeared. There is room in the Christmas story for everyone whatever their religious and ethnic differences.
Have there been any times when you've felt like an outsider and different? As we look to a God who is inclusive and we look at the Church, I wonder who the groups are that feel unwelcome in a Christian Church and what those of us in the church can do in order to be truly welcoming.
The video accompanying this is from the Youth President of the Methodist Church. In it James talks about neurodiversity and what that means both for worship and how he has been welcomed into churches and some of the practical steps that we can take to make worship more inclusive for neurodiverse people.