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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Welcome the Stranger
 

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  June 7, 2017 --

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

One of the biggest differences between the culture of Biblical times and our modern western culture is in hospitality to strangers. In at least a dozen places, scripture tells us to welcome strangers, and until recently this was a mandate for almost all cultures in the Middle East, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. In Leviticus we read: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”. This is reinforced in Deuteronomy, where we are told: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

A famous example of showing hospitality to strangers is found in the 18th chapter of Genesis, where we find Abraham resting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day when he looked up and saw three strangers standing nearby. He instantly ran from his tent to greet them and urged them to join him for something to eat and to drink. Unbeknownst to him these were messengers from God, and they brought blessing upon Abraham and Sarah his wife. But Abraham had no way of knowing that such blessing was forthcoming from his actions. He was merely following the customs of his time and his culture.

Jesus tells us in Matthew: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you..” In telling the parable of the Good Samaritan He shows another example of kindness to strangers, even those who might be considered enemies. Jews and Samaritans generally despised each other at this time in history, but the Samaritan in the story showed great kindness, generosity, and brotherly love to the stranger Jew he found robbed and beaten. Paul tells us, in Romans: “Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” And in the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

It is of great sadness to me that we, today, have moved so far away from these ancient Biblical standards of hospitality.

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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