Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Welcome them in

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Matthew 25:35
"Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt." Exodus 22:21
'The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but her frustrates the ways of the wicked." Psalm 146: 9

The United States is a nation of foreigners, of refugees, and flee-ers. Unless you're descended from native Americans (the true first nation!), you came from somewhere else. That's just the truth of it. And some of us who came were good, solid people with strong values. But others weren't good people. They fled their country of origin because they'd caused a lot of havoc there and wouldn't stop when they got here. That's also true. It just is.

But I'm not going to spend my first post after more than a year talking about all of us refugees who have landed on American shores. I want to remind us of the ones God gives us in scripture. And make no mistake, these are big ones. Such GIANTS we wouldn't be who we are if people hadn't welcomed them in.

Joseph was a refugee. His brothers threw him to the wolves, so to speak, and he ended up in a whole different land, having to learn a different language, having to start over. He began small in Egypt, and, in his case, the cream rose to the top quickly. He became in charge of things while still young and handsome enough that women threw themselves at him and men were jealous of him. Egypt wasn't a place that worshiped the God of Joseph. When he brought his family to live there, when that family multiplied again and again, they continued to think of themselves as foreigners and refugees because they knew where their homeland was, AND who their God was, when their God was different then the many accepted by the ones ordained by those in power. But before things got bad (in the time of Moses) they were good for a very long time.

Ruth was a refugee. An orphan and widow, she had no family when she followed Naomi home to Israel. Not only Naomi, but Naomi's most powerful kinsman welcomed Ruth in. Boaz married this foreigner. He looked beneath her differences to see how they were alike as humans, and he loved her. Because of that, King David was born. And...Jesus Himself.

And then, of course, there's the refugee of refugees, Jesus. Because of Him--HIM--Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt (so welcoming, that nation!) for two years. They were political and religious refugees of the first order. Weren't they? Afraid for their lives. Jesus would have been doomed if He hadn't left, just as those other baby boys were doomed because of Herod's mad fears about this newborn king.

As Christians, we come from this lineage. We are descendants of refugees. It's in our DNA, I guess you could say. both as people of this country and people who follow these refugees.  And as the verses written at the top of this post remind me, we are called to welcome strangers and foreigners. NOT to build walls. NOT to fear them. NOT to cast them out. We act like Christ as we welcome them in, we welcome HIM in, when we act so. Where we tell them they are not welcome, where we define who gets in by the color of their skin or the place they came or the way they worship, we do NOT act like Christ. There is NOTHING in these verses that even implies we only care for those who are like us.

We do this because, "THE LOVE OF CHRIST COMPELS US." II Corinthians 5: 14 That's it. The end.

I don't know how often I will blog, but this new world we are in gives me pause. Perhaps that's enough to begin again.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

It's wonderful to have you back among us here in Blogland! Thank you for your heartfelt, sensitive and thoughtful post. It is good to have this perspective from a Christian point of view. I've missed you!!!