Christ in the stranger's guise.
Something to think about
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’.
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). At the time of writing, 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. This contribution was originally created for the Ireland Footsteps journey Lent 2020
**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.