By Andrea Lingle

A self-cropped mop of curls hung around her face which was as red as anger and hurt can make it. The toe of her one-inch heel was missing a few of the plastic jewels that crusted the surface. When she stamped it onto the long-ago polished wooden floor, her fingers, still a little chubby with babyhood, were fisted, tight.

“Mom, they won’t let me play wiff dem.”

I am busy. I don’t have time to deal with this crisis. I mean, I literally already did, ten minutes ago, and right now I am in the middle of something. I drag my eyes over the important details sent in the last email in a growing thread from a social justice task force I am a part of.

“Ok, honey,” I have given her my face, but not my eyes or attention.

“What won’t they let you do?”
“Mom! They won’t let me play wiff dem. I told you dat.”

I close my computer screen and look at her. She is dressed in a hand-me-down dance costume that belonged to the neighbor’s cousin. I think the cousin must have been dancing to Cabaret. The costume is red and black and glitters in very grown up ways.

“What won’t they let you play?”
“I don’t know. I just want to be wiff dem.”

She didn’t know what they were doing, but the door was closed, the way was barred, the relationship was broken. She was excluded.

For the next several months, the Wisdom for the Way will be exploring inclusion. What does it mean to be inclusive? Does that mean anything different when you claim to be a missional community? What happens when you run into people who are harmful? What about people who are annoying?

To be missional is to be sent, to be a community it to live together in such a way that grace puddles up around your feet. One of the most transformative lessons I have learned since I began my journey with the Missional Wisdom Foundation is that to be missional means to be sent out with others not to others. I take preposition choices very seriously, and I believe that this one changes how religious communities experience inclusion. I am including you, not to convert you or, even, to succor you, but so that I can behold a fuller version of the face of God.

To be in missional community is to be sent out with the other so that, within the grasp of community, we may more fully experience the mystery of grace.

I don’t remember what I said to my children that day, but I am sure it included some version of our family motto:

What is the most important thing? Everyone feels included.

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