If not for a stranger…

Readings: Psalm 146:5-10; Ruth 4:13-17; 2 Peter 3:11-18

Happy are those whose help is in the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord their God,

The Lord watches over the strangers;

he upholds the orphan and the widow…Psalm 146:5, 9

[The Lord] shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him…” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:15, 17

There seems to be more fear in the air these days. People who are a different hue, who speak another language, and who wear scarves in a different way are looked at with suspicion rather than healthy curiosity and care. It’s almost as if we’ve decided that those who are like us will invariably bring positive things to our lives and the others negative things.  Have we decided it’s acceptable to preemptively assign ill intention to anyone we don’t know or don’t resemble? Do we only want blessings from those who look, speak, and act just like us?

I hope not. In my life, blessing has been just as likely to come from an unexpected place, an unknown person, a stranger. My most fervent prayers are usually answered in ways I cannot anticipate. Surprise is always involved.

This shouldn’t surprise me, though. David ruled and served Israel by the grace of a Moabite widow whose love and care took her far from home and safety. A stranger in her mother-in-law’s land, Ruth blesses the nation with her faith and her child, Obed.

What would have happened if Naomi and Boaz hadn’t welcomed the stranger? Where would they be without Ruth? Where would we be?

Lord, help me to welcome the stranger, care for the lost, and see in their eyes your love. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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