I Was a Stranger
Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
In her September 17 Sunday Musings from her Cottage blog, Diana Butler Bass wrote:
The news about immigrants being lured from a shelter in San Antonio by the governor of Florida and shipped off to Massachusetts as a kind of political stunt is a profoundly cruel use of distressed people for political purposes. And the mirth and amusement that this episode inspired among self-declared “Christian” politicians has been nauseating.
While most Americans understand that the immigration system is strained — and we may not agree how to fix it — there is no disagreement about the centrality of hospitality as a moral practice of biblical faith. Beginning with Abraham and Sarah through Jesus and early Christian communities to the Prophet Muhammed, welcoming the stranger is fundamental and necessary to faithfulness to God.
That a church on Martha’s Vineyard sheltered unexpected arrivals, “angels unaware,” as guests worthy of dignified treatment, is a testimony to goodness and generosity, a vision of the world as God intends it to be — practicing hospitality toward strangers.
Matthew 25:34-36 represents Jesus’ notion of hospitality -- the practice of welcoming those whom Jesus calls “the least of these” into the heart of community. Outsiders are brought inside the circle of protection and care as usual social relationships are disrupted or reversed. Jesus overturns our conventional idea of hospitality as a reciprocal exchange and depicts it as an act of extravagant grace: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors…But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.” (Luke 14:12-13).
We tend to equate hospitality with parties and social gatherings, or gracious resorts and expensive restaurants. To us, hospitality is an industry not a practice, one that summons Martha Stewart to mind more quickly than Jesus Christ. But ancient Christians considered hospitality a virtue, an expression of the love of neighbor that was fundamental to being a person of the Way.
While some contemporary Christians think of morality mostly as sexuality, our ancestors insisted that Jesus’ ethics were based upon welcoming the stranger.
I have no doubt that if the governor of Texas were to send undocumented immigrants to Albany, N.Y., Old Chatham Friends would join efforts to help them. I assume that Texas Governor Greg Abbott is unaware of the existence of Old Chatham. Otherwise, we might find a bus load of immigrants in our area.
~ submitted by Richard Russell
Donald Newman Lathrop
9/26/2022 08:50:51 pm
Again, an interesting reflection. You certainly put your finger on the different ways some folks care for strangers.
9/27/2022 05:58:40 am
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