THE ORIGINAL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
You Were Strangers
Blessed Friends in Faith,
When we find ourselves in a room with others in which we are the strangers, we experience in a deep way, the goal of faith. Faith turns strangers into friends. Faith has the capacity to cross all distances. Faith calls us to move everyone up to higher ground.
All of human history has been marked by people on the move. Our current times are no different. What are people running from? Danger, disease, and death. What are people running to? A new life in a new land. A new start in a new place. Life begins again.
The Holy Bible has us remember that our faith ancestors knew well the experience of the human condition and the desire to live differently. In Exodus 22:20 God reminds the people on the move, “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” God even goes on to say, “If you do mistreat them, I will hear their cries, and I will be furious.” I remember well moments in my growing up that my loving, caring mom was “furious” with me. If we don’t learn from our mistakes in our treatment of others, how will we mature? How will the community thrive? How can we all do well?
Faith life is not so much about the destination, but how we are with each other along the way. Faith is a journey from where we were suffering, to where we address and confront and respond to the suffering of others, who we can relate to, because we were there too. This requires thinking big. What is our long past? What is our long legacy? How far have we come? What blessings and strengths can we lend so that others too no longer are strangers in our midst, but friends, neighbors, compatriots in the human community.
The amazing faithfulness of those ancient Israelites strengthens our souls so that we are not embittered by our time in harsh conditions. In fact we celebrate the release of all people from all times of misery. Who is powerless? Who has no voice? Who has no food, clothing and shelter? Who has been uprooted from their beloved houses of faith? Don’t be strange to that!
Faith folds us into a fellowship of God’s children, no longer strangers, but friends who celebrate many cultures, many gifts, many skills, many strengths, and so many beautiful days to come!
May God use our faithfulness for great turnarounds in human life!