“The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
The Rev. Stephanie Spellers is a leader in the Episcopal Church, working with Bishop Michael Curry to spread a message of God’s inclusive and expansive love. She tracks how we move from a love of self, and those like us, to a generative love for all.
Following this expression of God’s love, Richard Rohr tries to help us take encouragement from the facts of God’s involvement with God’s people throughout Scripture. He reminds us that it is true that God stands with people through every trial, but not so that they will sit comfortably with the privilege of divine favor. Now they have to stand in solidarity with, graciously receive and welcome the vulnerable within their community and beyond it whom they might find it most difficult to accept: the orphan, the widow, the stranger, The Other. God has done it for them. Now they are called to respond in kind, literally imitating the God who graciously welcomed them, and brought them into an expanded relationship with him and his purpose. The following from Isaiah kind of sets the parameters for our response:
“Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see them naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (Isaiah 58:6–7)
God has made it clear that there’s a requirement: if you love me you will work for liberation with the oppressed and marginalized in your midst, and you will share your home and food with those who have none. You will not hide from the brothers and sisters I have placed near you. Rather, you will actively go out to meet them and draw them to yourself, even if it is risky, even if you feel uncomfortable. We have been separated from each other for quite some time. As the vaccines become more available, and the virus comes under more control, we will soon be able to be involved with each other in more ways. That is something we all have been looking forward to experiencing. I am encouraged.
“Heal Me, Hands of Jesus”
Fill me, joy of Jesus; anxiety shall cease,
and heaven’s serenity be mine,
for Jesus brings me peace.
We thank you Lord God for always being with us, in us, and for us. Help us enable those who do not know you to get acquainted. Your love is for all, in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.
Pastor David Brosnan