This week's prompt instantly reminded me the Chinese pictogram for crisis illustrates both danger and opportunity. Though I could take this prompt in countless directions from the global to the very individual, I'll write about my current place.
Los Angeles is the second biggest city in the country; it's probably the most diverse human settlement in the history of planet earth. Like any large twenty-first century urbanity, LA contains a literal plethora of retail opportunities and entertainment venues. I especially love how its cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity means more restaurants, food trucks, street carts, and cafés than any individual could sample in a year of three meals a day. Farmers Markets and Super Markets offer all the ingredients you need to create your own.
Kate's danger image includes a chain link fence. Poet Robert Frost told us "good fences make good neighbors." As much as we need to be aware and care for each other, it's important to be sensitive to and honor geographic, social, and emotional boundaries. However, as in other big cities and small places, many people feel threatened and build actual walls to keep newcomers out; some put up high social barriers to exclude (not welcome and include) almost anyone who feels or looks not like them, in their fear maybe not considering what gifts people "different from me" often can be.
Many stories in scripture are rooted in migration and displacement. They include Abram and Sarai, the Exodus, exile into Babylon, Jesus' experience as a refugee into Egypt, God's Spirited charge to the church to go everywhere, include everyone, with examples of people and groups who in some ways are quite unlike God's primal people Israel. God calls all of us to be hospitable and welcoming; after all, "You know the heart of a stranger because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Different translations say stranger, foreigner, sojourner, resident alien. Scripture references include Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33; examples from Jesus and from the nascent church in Acts of the Apostles.
Rather than reacting as if we're in danger and putting up fences, can we consider newcomers to our neighborhood, city, or church an opportunity to be appropriately welcoming?
I'm way far past five minutes and would love to continue this topic.