Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret
Meine Damen und Herren,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Guden Abend, bon soir,
We geht's? Comment ca va?
Do you feel good? I bet you do!
Ich bin euer Confrecier; je suis votre compere...
I am your host!
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret

Leave your troubles outside!
So - life is disappointing? Forget it!
We have no troubles here!
Here life is beautiful...
The girls are beautiful...
Even the orchestra is beautiful!

With those words the Emcee famously invites the audience into the moral twilight world of Cabaret, where the people of 1930's Berlin could escape the horrors of the rising tide of Nazism.
I have been blogging about welcome this week in the light of the warm welcome that I and my family have received here at Faith United Methodist Church, Grand Rapids, MI (it is not every church you drive past on the evening of your arrival and find your name in lights outside), and in the wake of my sermon last Sunday on the subject of "Welcome.!" However, the welcome that we offer to people, or rather that Jesus offers through us, should not be on the same basis as that offered by the Emcee. We are not inviting people into a problem free environment (who was it who first offered the advice that if you ever find a perfect church, don't join it because you'd only spoil it!?); nor should we be suggesting that they leave their troubles outside.

Far from it... Jesus actually says
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (ANIV)

We are invited to bring our burdens to Jesus and we should be encouraging others to do so too, messy though that may be. At the gym I go to the restaurant area has a set of specially constructed shelves so that people won't bring their smelly, obstructive sportsbags into the restaurant. And often we do not respond well when people bring their bag of troubles into church. And people quickly pick up on that, and go where they feel more welcome.
The word welcome comes actually comes from the idea that someone's coming is in accordance with your will… And it is God's will in Christ that all should come to him through us… In Isaiah he says:
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."
Isaiah 55:1 (ANIV)

Places like the KitKat Club of Cabaret, and the clubs and bars of the world, like the legendary “Cheers” “Where they always know your name, and they’re always glad you came…” are often much better than the church at welcoming the broken and hurting and the confused of this world… They don’t offer any answers, but they create an environment were people feel welcome… For a price… But as God makes clear in Isaiah, what God offers through us is free…
So why can't we put the KitKat Club out of business? Offering not an escape from our troubles, but a way to really deal with them...
The question is whether the girls are as beautiful, never mind the orchestra!?


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