Luther Place Memorial Church Practices Rainbow Hospitality

by Rev . Karen Brau

Over decades of ministry at Luther Place Memorial Church, our congregation has talked about and then lived out a specific type of welcome called “biblical hospitality.”

In her book Just Hospitality, Letty Russell, one of the wise theologians of the church, defines biblical hospitality as “the practice of God’s welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God’s actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.” The manifestation of hospitality takes many forms.

What has been deeply meaningful in our congregation is the way hospitality with the GLBTQ community has come to life among us.

I am a big fan of rainbows. I look for them after every storm, and rainbows have showed up in my life in tough times and in times of celebration. For their wonder, power and beauty, rainbows are an appropriate sign of the GLBTQ community. As a biblical symbol, they remind us of God‘s promise to love us always and to never abandon us, even when the storms seem unrelenting. 

Put rainbows and biblical hospitality together and you get, Rainbow Hospitality! 

To me, the video I have been blessed to be part of for Believe Out Loud is an example of Rainbow Hospitality. It gives me, a straight ally, a reason why welcome into church through the gospel of Jesus Christ is a reality in our ministry at Luther Place, making it a given in our life together.

Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons is one of the early saints of the church who we celebrate on June 28. I keep returning to one of the wise things that Irenaeus said in the first century, “The glory of God is a person fully alive.” 

I wonder how we become fully alive if we are not who we really are in all realms of life? 

God delights in our similarities and in our differences, and God longs for us to discover our true selves. In my study of those who deeply engage in the spiritual journey, knowing one self is part of our maturing relationship with The Holy.

Further, I write this piece the week after DOMA’s Section 3 has been overturned by the Supreme Court. This ruling affirms something that I come to appreciate deeply in my efforts with Marriage Equality in DC: we are, in the words offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association, “standing on the side of love.” 

In our days of joy and struggle, the gift of a partner to accompany us and to travel with is one of the manifestations of God among us. Since arriving in DC in late 2008, I have been honored in presiding at multiple marriages of same sex couples in DC. For each wedding I have performed, the love, commitment and desire to be together in marriage has moved me. 

I believe that in 2013, all couples having the right to marry is Rainbow Hospitality.  

I come to this time of change as a Lutheran Clergy who serves a church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, whose reformation roots encourages us to be a church that is “Always Being Made New.” 

May the rainbow of God’s grace bend toward a church that lives and practices hospitality towards all love, out loud!

Photo featuring the Rainbow Doors of Luther Place Memorial Church