Our theme for 2023-2024 – “Strangers No More” – articulates a profound idea deeply rooted in our Christian faith. At its core, this phrase tells us about the importance of welcoming and caring for others, especially those who are unfamiliar or marginalized, as a fundamental aspect of Christian stewardship.
The idea of hospitality as a cornerstone of Christian stewardship resonates with several key teachings and principles within Christianity:
Biblical Foundations: The Bible is replete with stories that emphasize the significance of hospitality. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah welcome of three strangers (who were actually angels) in Genesis 18 serves as a prime example. In the New Testament, Jesus’ parables of the Good Samaritan and the Sheep and the Goats underscore the importance of showing love and compassion to strangers.
Image of God: Christianity teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God. By extending hospitality, Christians recognize the divine presence in others and demonstrate love and respect for their fellow human beings.
Radical Love and Inclusivity: Jesus dined with tax collectors, healed the sick, and associated with those considered outcasts. The act of welcoming strangers aligns with Christ’s teachings concerning love for all, regardless of social, economic, or cultural differences.
Faith in Action: The Apostle James emphasizes the importance of putting faith into action through deeds of hospitality and care. He famously states, “Faith without works is dead!” (James 2:26). Welcoming strangers and providing for their needs is a tangible way of living out one’s faith.
Building Community: Hospitality fosters a sense of belonging and community. When we welcome and accept individuals into our community, we form relationships, and create a sense of unity. This is crucial for building a strong Christian community that supports and uplifts one another.
Witness to Christ’s Love: Hospitality serves as a powerful witness to the world of Christ’s love and grace. When Christians show genuine care and kindness to strangers, it reflects the transformative power of Christ’s message and helps to draws others closer to the faith.
Responsible Stewardship: Just as Christians are stewards of their resources, they are also stewards of God’s creation – including the relationships and encounters that come their way. By practicing hospitality, we responsibly manage these opportunities positively to impact the lives of others.
How will you support our efforts to build a community that practices this kind of hospitality? Your support is vital. Spend some time in prayer and reflection in the days ahead to ask for God’s guidance about the ways you can best assure that St. Luke’s remains a sure and certain witness to God’s abiding love in our community.