Jesus was not the first holiday stranger, just the most famous. His parents were displaced persons, refugees under the authority of an occupying force, and he was one baby too many in a already overcrowded processing center. But he wasn’t the first. From the first time the people of God celebrated their holy days, welcoming and including the alien, the pilgrim, the poor and the lonely was central to that celebration.
From their tithes to their festivals, the Hebrew people were to celebrate big so that there would be enough, so that . . .
“. . . so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 14:29)
When it was time to celebrate Passover, Booths, Purim or Hanukkah, no party was complete until someone new, someone lonely or someone wandering was included in the party. From the way the table was set to the folk tales they told their children, the celebrations were a continuing reminder that “the alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34)
We are entering into our holiday season. The Fakkema ladies can begin playing Christmas music after Thanksgiving supper on Thursday! My challenge to our ACRC family this holiday season is simple: let’s expect God to bring opportunities to minister to the alien, the stranger and the pilgrim. When we are share Thanksgiving supper, when we are gathering for Hanukkah and Christmas Eve and when we are playing volleyball on New Year’s Eve – be ready to minister to someone new. Because we have been strangers in God’s family (Leviticus 19:34) and because we want God to bless the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 14:29). The most famous holiday stranger, the one whose birthday we celebrate, will be pleased!
With you in on the mission, Pastor Doug Fakkema, Anacortes CRC