Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Xenophilia: Love of the stranger (xenos) is core to Christian theology. In Deuteronomy, we read, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The command to love the stranger (also translated foreigner, sojourner, traveler, or resident alien) is rooted in our story—the experience of our ancestors-in-faith—who also faced the reality of being strangers themselves.

Maybe it’s hard on our imaginations to think back this far, to identify with people who lived thousands of years ago, and thereby to welcome the stranger in our midst for the singular reason that our people were once strangers themselves. And maybe we have a hard time identifying with those ancestors-in-faith in the first place, feeling as if the lives of the ancient near easterners are so very separate from our own lives that we can’t possibly belong to those ancient tribes.

But when we declare ourselves part of the Christian faith, we are adopted into this ancient family, grafted onto this ancient family tree, and become part of this ancient lineage. We love the stranger in our midst because the people in our ancient, adopted family were once strangers, and so we can feel in our bones what it feels like to be the sojourner-traveler, and we know deeply what it means to need and long for a welcome table spread before us.

May we be xenophilic by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

Praying the Alphabet
O Expansive and Inexpressible God,
Speak to us through your sacred text.
When we are anxious,
expand our hearts.
Extend hospitality to us.
Fix your spirit within us.