The community to which Jesus invites us is full of quirky, impatient, opinionated people, each of us as different from one another as a hand to an eye. Yet discovering we belong together is as miraculous as a baby discovering his fingers and toes. You could say this discovery is the heart of unconditional welcome, being known and loved for who we are, exactly the way we are, and different from fitting into a group because we share the same race, social status, or political affiliation.
My first experience of unconditional welcome was as part of a summer youth program: We learned about Appalachian culture, took turns leading daily worship, and worked alongside local farmers baling hay, hoeing tobacco, and renovated buildings. In the evenings, we worked through problems that arose during the day, talked about social justice, and shared our life stories. Christianity became the lens through which I looked at life, and my faith grew deep in the process.
Cursillo, a renewal movement of the Episcopal church, immerses participants in similar lessons about prayer, study, and service. This summer John and I served on the music team for NC Cursillo #108, and I was reminded of the sheer joy of Christian community. Cursillo is a 3-day weekend filled with short talks, group discussions, worship, and fun, all in service to developing Christian leadership. After the weekend, people who have made Cursillo and others who are interested in deepening their spiritual lives, come together to share our experiences of living with Jesus Christ, and offer each other love and support and encouragement. In Cursillo, we call this “Ultreya.”
Sunday evening, September 22, St. Peter’s is hosting the Charlotte Area Ultreya from 6:00-7:30 p.m., immediately after Choral Evensong. You’re invited to join us, whether you made Cursillo this year, 20 years ago, or are hearing about it for the first time. Our purpose in gathering is to strengthen each other in our Christian journeys, and to listen for where God is calling us individually and collectively. Please come!
Ginny Brien, St. Peter’s Parishioner and Cursillo Music Team