Sunday, July 19, 2015

No Longer Strangers

Watchword for the week of July 19, 2015

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints
 and members of the household of God.  Ephesians 2:19

To wake up in a place you’ve never woken up in before—to be smothered in a feather bed when you’ve always slept on a coil-system mattress and box spring, to have bright sunlight stream through wobbly glass windows on the opposite side of the room from where flat light usually seeps in, to breathe in the vapors left behind by the room’s regular inhabitant when you’re accustomed to the scent of your own Herbal Essence shampoo on the pillow—to awaken in such a scene is purely disorienting. And then to remember that you’ve been traveling, and that you are now 4,325 miles from home, and that you are visiting the European branch of your family tree, and that you don’t really know how to find the bathroom in your aunt & uncle’s  rambling German farmhouse—this all coalesces in an immediate wave of homesickness that does not resolve when cousins whose names you do not know greet you with, “Guten Morgen,” and you are reminded that nobody in the household speaks the same language as you.

This is, maybe, a little bit, what it feels like to be a stranger, an alien. The feeling lessens when the jet lag wears off. And when your host beckons you with hand motions to sit at the kitchen table. And when she sets out Frühstück (breakfast). And when, even though the food is unfamiliar, it looks and smells delicious. And when the rest of household members take their seats and fill up the room with cheery chatter. And when they pass you platters and encourage you, through cajoling gestures and made up sign language, to try die Brötchen (warm rolls that most certainly are served in heaven!). And when, by the end of the meal you have learned the meaning of Frühstück and Brötchen.  And when you become comfortable enough to even laugh with the folks around the table. 


To belong. Is this not what everyone everywhere longs for? To be included. Is this not a universal desire? The very Good News is that God’s household is barrier-free. With no cultural restrictions to keep us on the outside, we are welcomed directly to the inner circle of kinship. We are free to learn and laugh and love without risk! And if this is disorienting, it is only so because we might be unaccustomed to such a complete and beautiful experience of inclusion. Thanks be to God!