And that was only the beginning. A few years later, Philip – another of Jesus’ earliest followers – went to an area called Samaria to tell people about Jesus. The people of that area were despised by people of Jewish descent so much, in fact, that a sort of apartheid existed between Jews and Samaritans. Yet, when Philip reported to the rest of the church’s leadership in Jerusalem that the Samaritans had reacted warmly to his preaching, “they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed with them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. …Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” In other words, God followed up the Jewish Pentecost with a Samaritan Pentecost because his intention for the church was that it should be a place of acceptance.
It was God’s intention from the very beginning for “church” to be a place – a group, a gathering – for all kinds of people. And, though churches have often strayed from that ideal through the centuries, it remains God’s intention today. So, come as you are. Be welcomed by God.