We welcome and love the stranger because we remember being loved and welcomed and cared for by others. We know what we have wished for: time. Understanding. Company. Listening. Respect.

Loving strangers asks that our hearts be authentically open. Judgments and constant busy-ness can’t be the order of the day if we are to truly welcome those among us and love those different from us…

At our borders

In our neighborhoods and towns

In our schools and workplaces

In our church and in our families

This divinely mandated love of strangers might be thought of as holy hospitality. It goes far beyond today’s notions of hospitality as an industry or social nicety or growth tactic or personal obligation. It requires open and vulnerable hearts. It creates justice.

Welcoming and loving the stranger who is very different from us (who might also be an angel) means we risk being changed in ways we do not plan or anticipate or control. That is scary and challenging, especially if we feel uncertain of our futures or unclear about the new landscape we’re entering. Holy hospitality takes time, and openness, and keeping the presence of God at the center.

And loving strangers–embracing them fearlessly, letting them change us–is one of the most basic ways we bear Christ’s light into the world. May we grow the hearts and courage to carry that light, increase that witness, and proclaim, as best we can, that all who are strangers and oppressed must be welcomed.