Ashlee, our 10-year-old granddaughter, came to live with us 12 days ago. It’s a big adjustment for all of us.
Our church, Akron Grace E. C., has already made the adjustment a bit easier. Ashlee’s first Sunday was incredible. People went out of their way to greet her; some, like Leah and Bob, with their trademark bear hugs. Other adults talked to her about school, yard saling and other shopping fun. Doug asked to look at her interesting, horizontal Bible.
Best of all were her peers. Jenna came up and asked Ashlee to sit with her and Sara and Kalihan during worship. It was wonderful to look over (nervous grandmom) and see all four girls moving with the praise band and Ashlee being included like a regular. That was amazing to me, because tween-aged girls aren’t always so accepting. I know it made Ashlee’s first week at church a positive experience, one she is looking to repeat.
I love that our church friends “welcomed the stranger” among them. I hope it’s a lifestyle we are all living out
- in our church when someone new enters, pointing out the important things like bathrooms and nurseries and asking them to sit with us to ease the unfamiliarity.
- in our neighborhoods when new people move in, sharing info on the best pizza place and trash company, as well as offering an invite to church or our barbeque.
- in our country as immigrants come here for a better life or to escape persecution, violence or poverty in their own land, no matter how they come.
When we welcome the stranger, Jesus tells us, we are welcoming him:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35, 36, 40).
We were all strangers, “alienated from God,” according to Colossians 1:21. But God chose to reach out to us, in spite of our condition, in spite of our sin, in spite of our attitudes. He welcomed us, paying the price himself, through Christ’s death. I am so thankful he didn’t reject me because I was a stranger, an alien.
Who are the aliens and strangers in your world? What one thing can you do this week to welcome them? Tell me in the comments section!