The lectionary texts for the Third Sunday of Easter remind Christians of our true source of hope, i.e., calling upon “the name of the Lord,” as well as how to live in a turbulent world. How essential these life-lines are when life comes at us in new keys and ever faster cadences. Tuning our voices for praise and humble, loving speech empowers faithful witness in Eastertide.
Yesterday an Iraqi family was present at church, and I learned they had only recently resettled to the Kansas City area. Sitting near the family, I witnessed the work of the people of God as we welcomed them, oriented them to the order of worship and hymnal, and made sure they understood the varied movements in the service. Next Sunday our church will host a friendship meal—and this family has promised to cook (an interesting host/guest reversal!) I was reminded of the lovely David Ashley White anthem, which includes the words: “No longer stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” I do not yet know the full story of how they made their way to Prairie Baptist Church, but I am delighted by their presence and trust they will feel at home.
First Peter 1:17-23 instructs a way of living appropriate to those born anew; we are to love one another “deeply from the heart.” Because of God’s great love demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are able to express genuine mutual love. Helping immigrant families is labor intensive, to be sure; however, it was one of the most profound ways Christians can express hospitality. Further, it is a way of embodying the reality that the people of God are not demarcated by national or ethnic identities, but are constituted as a “holy nation,” God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9).
People are able to believe in the great mercy of God when those who have received mercy extend it to others. Indeed, according to the logic of First Peter, receiving mercy from God is what makes those “who were not a people” into emissaries of grace. Those who work for peace through conflict resolution, e.g., ABC representative Dan Buttry, know that face to face conversation helps quell fear of the “other,” and helps discover common interests. As the Spirit makes possible a “ground of meeting” (John V. Taylor’s term), persons open their hearts to one another and begin to love, deeply.
Molly T. Marshall
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