Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1,10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Part I Additional readings from the Old Testament
Exodus 23: 9
You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19: 33-34
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.
…there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you…
Deuteronomy 10: 19
Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 29: 19
Cursed be he who perverts the justice due to the sojourner.
In 1841 Georg, Jacob, and Christian Dannacker set sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Wurttemberg, Germany with only the clothes on their backs. Christian was 15 years old and spoke only German. After six weeks at sea, they landed in Baltimore, Maryland. Christian’s first job was on a canal boat working from Baltimore to Highspire, Pennsylvania. He settled in the Lancaster area and soon began working for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a yard worker, and later as a member of a track crew. The Donecker clan continued to work as railroad people, worshiping in German in Lutheran congregations in the Lancaster area and Philadelphia. However, with the breakout of World War I, they quickly transitioned to English. In the fourth generation in the United States of America, my father was the first one to go to college on the G.I. Bill. The fifth generation includes a nurse, an occupational therapist, a hospital worker, a veterinarian, and a priest.
From our reading of Hebrews:
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it…. Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
From our reading of the Gospel according to St. Luke:
Jesus said… when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they can not repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
To have an open and generous heart is a challenge in every generation. The Psalmist wrote about God, who
gave [the ancient Israelites] over to the stubbornness of their own hearts; to follow their own desires.
Yet the people of faith are called to be people of open and generous hearts. So, we say our prayers, “Thy kingdom come”, not our kingdom; and “Thy will be done”, not my will be done. We pray, “Guide us waking, O Lord; and guide us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace”. We pray:
where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where this is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
We pray that we may console, that we may understand, that we may love. So, we are to welcome; we are to greet; we are to embrace; we are incorporate. Yes, there are times when we get “burned” when we get “taken for a ride” when we get taken advantage of when we get deceived. At those times we are tempted to harden our own hearts.
However, I believe we, the People of Faith, are called to a different standard even though it is a risky lifestyle to be open-hearted, to be generous.
So, when a bus load of migrants arrives from Texas in Washington, D.C., and in New York City, we are to greet them with open arms and with open hearts, since we, too, were once strangers in a strange land, speaking a strange language, with only the clothes on our backs.
The fourth question of our Baptismal Covenant found on page 305 of the Book of Common Prayer is this:
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
The printed response is:
Yes, We will with God’s help!