It’s funny how certain songs or poems spring up in our memories when we least expect them.  There’s a song I learned in church a long time ago called ‘All Are Welcome’.  I liked the song and would always sing along loud and proud and off-key.  Yet not until recently did I realize the impact that it had somewhere deep in my memory.  The city that my daughter and I live in has a yearly summer festival called Coast Guard Festival.  It’s fun, it’s festive, it brings in a lot of people to our beach town, and it is especially engaging for teenagers/high schoolers.  There is a short window of time in their life where all of these kids can hang out, have fun, do silly summer stuff and still be kids. We are fortunate to live in town and close to all of the festivities.  The kids can safely walk to the beach, the carnival, the events and pretty much anywhere from our home.  Anna had asked to have her friends stay here during the festival and arrangements were made.  As it often goes with teenagers, her friends invited other friends, then those friends invited other friends, then those other friends invited other friends and pretty soon we had a house, and backyard, full of kids.  Bonfires, tents, music, laughter, Fortnite, early morning breakfast at Rendevous, sleeping in til (at least) noon, beach time, carnival rides, carnival food, pizza delivery, parades, and piles of shoes at my front and back door.  And every time anyone asked if they could stay here my answer was ‘All are welcome in my house’.  It’s good to have good memories that sometimes come out of nowhere.  Here are the lyrics:

All Are Welcome

Let us build a house
where love can dwell
And all can safely live,
A place where
saints and children tell
How hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions,
Rock of faith and vault of grace;
Here the love of Christ shall end divisions,

All are welcome, All are welcome, All are welcome in this place

Let us build a house where prophets speak,
And words are strong and true,
Where all God’s children dare to seek
To dream God’s reign anew.

Here the cross shall stand as witness
And a symbol of God’s grace;
Here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:

All are welcome, All are welcome, All are welcome in this place

Let us build a house where love is found
In water, wine and wheat:
A banquet hall on holy ground,
Where peace and justice meet.

Here the love of God, through Jesus,
Is revealed in time and space;
As we share in Christ the feast that frees us:

All are welcome, All are welcome,
All are welcome in this place.

With love from Grand Haven,