Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From Hostility to Hospitality

I suppose it is natural to react negatively (even though at the moment there is no definitive evidence of refugee involvement in the Paris atrocity) to the Syrian refugees coming to America.  Where did your parents, grandparents, great grandparents come from?  All of us are the sons and daughters of immigrants here in America.  We are an immigrant nation and have been since our beginning.  We have grown and thrived as a nation because we have reached out to take others into “our family.”  The prophet Isaiah (54:2) cries:  

“Enlarge the limits of your home
spread wide the curtains of your tent
Let out its ropes to the full 
and drive the pegs home.

Like the Hebrews of old, we were once strangers too.  “You too must show love toward the stranger, for you once lived as strangers in Egypt” (Deut. 10:19).  Henri Nouwen suggests that this is our vocation as persons and as a nation, to convert hostility into hospitality where fearful strangers can enter and become a part of our family.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Do you remember Neil Diamond’s song, “America?”  The words of that song sounded within me yesterday and that poem too, you know, the one inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

No comments:

Post a Comment