Daily reading: 2 March
Often, often, often goes the Christ in the stranger's guise.
The daily readings throughout Lent 2020 are taken from the Christian Aid Ireland footprints journey.
Psalm 19:7-14, Leviticus 19:1-2 and 11-18, and Matthew 25:31-46
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
- Matthew 25:34-36.
On a rough road to an isolated mountain community in Malawi, I gave a man a lift in my vehicle. We exchanged pleasantries in my limited grasp of the local language. Arriving at our destination, he unwrapped a large piece of honeycomb, broke it in half and generously shared his treasure with me. We ate together by a flowing spring in wonderful mountain scenery. I was the recipient of his hospitality. We had been strangers; now bonding over a rich and impromptu meal.
In Psalm 19 David conveys the wonder of God’s word, together with creation revealing God’s purposes. It’s sweeter than dripping honey. It’s guidance and sustenance for life. The lesson of Leviticus and Jesus’ words in Matthew further reveal God’s desire for justice, protection of the vulnerable and hospitality for the stranger. For, as I discovered, with many others before and since, it’s in the marginalised and stranger that we so often find something of the wonder of Christ.
It draws me to an old Gaelic text about hospitality*:
I saw a stranger Yestreen.
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place.
And in the blessed name of the Triune
He blessed myself and my house,
my cattle, and my dear ones.
And the lark said in her song:
'Often, often, often goes the Christ
in the stranger's guise’.
What might you do today to put yourself in the place of encountering the stranger?
Open our eyes to see You in others
Open our ears to hear You in the least of these,
Open our hearts to receive You in the stranger,
Open our lives to allow You to make Your home with us. Amen
Today's contributor is the Rev Richard Kerr. Originally from County Donegal, Richard spent over a decade with his family in Malawi working in rural development (under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in partnership with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian). He is presently minister of Templepatrick Presbyterian Church and Convenor of the Presbyterian Church’s Committee for Global Concerns. He is also a founder member of Embrace NI.
*The Rune of Hospitality is taken from the Carmina Gadelica, a collection of prayers, hymns, incantations, blessings, runes, and other literary poems and songs collected and translated by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910.
Published on 02 March 2020