Friday, December 4, 2015

Welcoming the stranger

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  -Hebrews 13:1-2

I have grown weary of reading about the acts of violence in our country and around the world.  I have grown weary of reading people's blogs and writings on refugees and whether or not they should be welcomed.  And yet here I am writing.

The hospitality to refugees is a puzzle to me and yet not so uncommon.  When I was in high school our community, church and my family welcomed many refugees and gave of time and resources to get them a safe place to live and jobs.  I remember my mother getting some of our furniture recovered to give them employment.  I don't remember anyone having a problem with welcoming these strangers.

I have seen in many churches how people lump groups of people together.  If you are a teenager you are up to no good.  If you are old you don't know anything.  If you are a single parent on public assistance...  You get the idea.  I have to wonder and even assume that is what people are doing when they say they don't want to welcome refugees for fear they may be terrorists.  I understand (I think) but that doesn't make it acceptable.

The other night we were working in the book "Five Questions of Christmas".  The author had helped us take a look at the question Zechariah asked the angel who had just told him his wife of old age would have a child: How can this be? We considered this a matter of not trusting God.  We say with God all things are possible. But when we are asked to believe in something we know to be impossible we don't trust God.

Then it hit me. How many of us who seek to be faithful and Christlike say we trust God's will for our lives and even propose that we are willing when God calls - how many of us might have a different answer when something difficult is asked of us?  I know I am apt to be there.  You want me to do what God?

Living the Christian life is not easy for anyone. We are asked to do difficult things, love unlovable people and give up control. I also wonder if the state of the church (decline) is because people have not really been willing to do those things in the past? present? 

As a pastor a day does not go by that I do not get interrupted in what I am doing to be with someone when they need me or even when they just want to chat.  Being a pastor has taught me a lot about being present and available for others.  I am often asked to love the unlovable or those people who have the most ridiculous demands or who gossip about me and others... I still am called to love them.

I have come to accept "it is not about me".  It is about a world created by a God of power, might, compassion, love, forgiveness... Each one of us has received freely the gift of God's love and blessings as well as many do overs we don't deserve. It is not about me and  it is not mine to judge. I responsible for springing in to action for those in need and seeking to bring about glimpses of God's preferred future for God's people.

Thank you for sticking with my rambling.  Perhaps I am the only one who needed this but I do pray this might be helpful.

Have a blessed holiday season.  May love always win big time.

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