Prayer

Day 1: Welcoming the Stranger

18/01/2018 11:00 am

Starting Point

The memory of a liberated people, that they were once enslaved, should compel us to welcome the stranger in our midst. The experience of Biblical Israel resonates with the experiences of the peoples of the Caribbean region, the majority of whom were once slaves. We remember how God restores the dignity of God’s people and the churches of the region play an important role in reminding their society of the duty to welcome refugees and displaced persons.

Readings

Leviticus 19.33-34 You shall love the alien as yourself
Psalm 146 The Lord watches over the strangers
Hebrews 13.1-3 Some have entertained angels without knowing it
Matthew 25.31-46 I was a stranger and you welcomed me

Prayer

Barrier-breaking God,
You embrace all cultures and lands,
But keep a special place in your heart
For the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit
That we may become as You are,
Welcoming all as brothers and sisters,
Your cherished children,
Citizens together in Christ’s kingdom of justice and peace.
Amen

Reflection

We are good because we are loved, 
not loved because we are good.
If it was up to each one of us to earn it,
we might not be loved very much.
Too much goat and not enough sheep.
And yet loved we are, since God is in all things,
even the bits we think are ugly and unmentionable.

We are loved,
but God wants us to give some love back,
giving and receiving
in a mutual relationship.
Love makes us better
holds us together
reaching out to the other.

Being in relationship with God means being with other people,
doing some good.
Looking after the creation
and not seeing everything as being there for our enjoyment.

It means being fair and not exploiting others.
It means giving and not taking.
It means being alongside not overpowering others.
It even means welcoming and respecting the stranger in our midst since it may be the Christ unannounced.

Questions

  1. How have you experienced being a stranger?
  2. Have you visited another church (perhaps whilst on holiday)? How were you welcomed? How did you feel?
  3. How might being truly hospitable be challenging? What might hold us back from being genuinely hospitable?