As you probably know, the great American writer, Carl Sandburg, spent the last years of his life on a lovely farm not far from Asheville. A television interviewer once asked this fine writer, “What, in your opinion, is the ugliest word in the English language?” Sandburg pondered for a long minute and repeated the phrase, “the ugliest word in the English language. . . .the ugliest word.” The audience leaned forward, waiting for his answer. Finally, Sandburg turned toward the interviewer, “The ugliest word,” he said slowly, “the ugliest word is … exclusive.”

To be excluded, rejected, or pushed aside is, indeed, one of the ugliest experiences of life, while to to be welcomed, accepted, and embraced is the most beautiful.

The reason some of us are followers of Jesus is that, even though others might reject us because of our faults and failures, he opens his arms and his heart to us. Others may leave us out and push us aside. He invites us to make our home–to find a place of belonging–in his love.