The Ugliest Word

A journalist once asked Carl Sandburg, “What is the ugliest word in the English language?” After a few minutes Sandburg replied, “Exclusive.” The ugliness of exclusive depends upon whether we are among the included or the excluded. old-man5We pride ourselves on being members of exclusive clubs, living in exclusive neighborhoods, dining at exclusive restaurants, vacationing at exclusive resorts, belonging to exclusive churches. Being an insider carries with it a sense of pride and security. Most of us, however, have been excluded often enough to agree that exclusive is an ugly word. When we are among the marginalized, the rejected, the pushed-aside, or the left-out it hurts!

Our question is simple. Who is excluded from the love of God? The answer is simple – no one. That demands the next question. Who is excluded from the church? Of course, the right answer is no one, but we know better. Unfortunately, no one is not the right answer. People are excluded from the church because of tradition, sexuality, financial status, race, “not fitting” and a whole host of other reasons. Let us pray and do all that is in our power to make sure our church is not exclusive.

4 Comments

Filed under Christian Living, Devotional Quotes

4 responses to “The Ugliest Word

  1. I was not familiar with this Sandburg quote. It is brilliant!

  2. Dear Pastor,
    I very much like this reflection. As a member of a Church which very much practices closed communion, it makes me wonder about the unintended exclusivity signals that it sends to visitors from other church traditions. Still, I wonder what your opinion is on the subject. At what point does the church become so inclusive that she loses her identity?

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