The family came to our congregation as refugees from Bosnia. The war had sent them first to Germany and some years later to the United States. We were their third country in seven years. Now, years later, deep and abiding friendships have developed with this family and others in the congregation, but that didn’t happen immediately.
Imagine being a stranger and having to learn two new languages and cultures in such a short time. Could you bear to start over twice with virtually nothing?
No wonder Jesus stressed the importance of being hospitable to the stranger: “And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you…?” (Matthew 25:38).
Many of us imagine that we are too busy to be involved in such service to others. We have enough to do without welcoming strangers from another country! But when we are more motivated by the love of our own life than by God’s call to welcome and serve strangers in our midst, we end up losing what is most precious in life.
This message is adapted from a devotion written by Mary Ann Moller-Gunderson for Women of the ELCA in 2003.