Week beginning 20th March
Read: Deuteronomy 10:19 Matthew 25:37 – 46
There are many references to loving the stranger in the Old Testament. It is one of the most repeated exhortations to the Jews. There is an implication that there have always been travellers and movement of people, and also that there will always be ‘strangers’ coming amongst us. In our time there are more people displaced and migrating, forced from their homes by a range of dangers and fears, than at any other time in human history. If the predictions for a changing climate are correct, which evidence suggests that they are, then these numbers can only increase. Dried up or flooded lands cannot sustain crops and where there is no food people cannot live. Rising temperatures also seem to increase the stress and lead to consequent aggression which can turn to violence. Women and children are then more vulnerable to be recipients of abuse.
This puts a significant responsibility on those who work to follow Christ’s example, to provide for the ‘strangers’ the displaced, and abused, to offer them sanctuary, friendship and support. There is a Celtic proverb which says:
In the shelter of each other people live’. God is perhaps expecting us to respond positively, to be generous. If you have the opportunity it would be interesting to talk to people from different faith traditions, or none, about their perspectives regarding welcoming strangers. Alternatively, perhaps do some reading around hospitality.
Reflect: Central to Christ’s ministry is hospitality, care and concern for others as seen in his healing, his stories for teaching and his examples, his focus on those at the margins of society. To what extent can we glimpse God and his purposes for humankind in the ministry of Jesus?
Prayer: In our striving to live our lives in your ways God, learning from the life of Jesus, please grant us understanding. Show us how we can love those whom we meet, whatever their circumstances. Grant us grace, energy and resources, so that we may be generous in serving others.