Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Leviticus 19:33-34 -- On Loving Strangers

"And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
Leviticus 19:33-34

Thanksgiving time seems to be a time when people come together in a lot of ways.  We ask each other what we are doing for the holiday, not just to be polite, but to make sure that everyone is taken care of.  There are big dinners at shelters, and deliveries at food banks.  It is a time of year where we are grateful to God not just for what we own and for our immediate families, but where we see a lot of reaching out to others around us as well.
When we're children, we're often taught about stranger danger, not to talk to them or accept candy from them... and that is wise advice for us as children when we are sometimes too trusting, and willing to believe and go with any adult who tells us a lie.  It's an unfortunate lesson, I think, even if it is a necessary one in this world, because as we grow up, we might retain a little too much of it.  God asks us to "become as little children" (Matthew 18:3) in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Part of that is finding that untainted and unreserved trust and love that we used to have, and re-establishing it in our lives... learning to love others as we love ourselves, and walk in the footsteps of God who "loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment" (Deuteronomy 10:18).
Today, let's try to let go of some of the cynicism and desensitization to human needs that we've learned over a lifetime in this corrupt world.  Let's become as little children, willing to reach out to others, including strangers, and love them like they are different versions of our own family, born among us.  Let's adopt some strangers, and find places for them in our lives.  ... And let's also try to extend our love beyond this holiday and into our lives, loving more and fearing less.

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