When I arrived at the lodge, I knew instantly I was in a community—a community to which I did not belong. Nearly everyone but me had on a Norwegian sweater, those lovely sweaters with patterns of reindeer or snowflakes or some other reminder of the cold.
Before we ate lunch, someone announced that we would sing a table prayer to the tune of “The Bells of Christmas Chime Once More.” I told the woman next to me, “I don’t know that tune.” She was incredulous. “How can you be a Lutheran?” she asked, mostly kidding. How could I, indeed.
Before too long, these incredible women accepted me, hugged me, and even told me where I could get a Norwegian sweater. I went from being an outsider to being pretty close, minus the sweater.
To me, the sweater signaled their sameness and my difference. “You do not belong,” the sweaters shouted at me. But I don’t think it was the message the sweaters meant to send.
What messages are you sending? Are you welcoming the outsider?
Today we remember Francis Xavier, missionary to Asia (1552). This message was adapted from “The Vulnerable Outsider” written by Karen Melang that first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. If you are reading “Daily Grace” online, sign up to receive it by email daily.