When I started thinking about Lent and the issues of hospitality, immigration and refugees, my mind jumped to a couple of lines from the confession, "by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." This reminded me of two things. First, that doing nothing or delaying action can be just as harmful as acting wrongly. Second, that at this moment of confession we can take the opportunity to change and move forward on a different, hopefully less hurtful and less sinful, path.
Hospitality is a word thrown around in churches with regularity. Sometimes it is invoked in relation to evangelism and welcoming people to the church - radical hospitality. It is also commonly referenced when talking about immigration and immigration reform as well as welcoming refugees. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as "hospitable treatment, reception, or disposition."
In Leviticus we are given the charge, "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself" (Lev 19:34). Could the stranger be more than someone whose face we don't recognize? Could it also mean people with whom we may not see eye to eye? The concept of hospitality can stretch beyond offering one another food, shelter, welcome and comfort to offering one another space to speak and to listen to explore challenging concepts together while withholding judgment.
This is a hard request. It is something that is often "left undone" when it comes to hospitality. During the next several weeks, the EPPN's Lenten series will address some of the issues that surround immigration and refugees within and without our church. The basis of our work on these issues is General Convention and Executive Council Resolutions. During this series, I hope that you will take part in the radical hospitality of considering these issues with us. And, in turn, you can share your thoughts and comments with me by replying to an alert - this is our side of the mutual hospitality.
We've included links to several reflections on the theology of immigration and refugees, here. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.