Our life is a mystical journey that begins in the arms of our mother. Before long, we take our first clumsy, off-balance, awkward step and from that point forward not another one is guaranteed. Each day comes as a blessing and invites us to consider pathways that open to us possibilities and pitfalls.
Along the way, we learn. We grow. We extend our horizons.
At times, the surprises that await us render us speechless with unutterable joy. At times, they fill us with deep grief.
Along the way, people enter our lives. They are tender souls in hope of meaningful, heart-warming encounters with other tender souls.
Jesus was himself a tender soul. He would encounter people on his journey whose hearts, souls, spirits, and bodies were wounded. His warm embrace of love for them was genuine. He was able to communicate to them in an unmistakable way that they were valued. they were loved. He wanted them to know they were embraced fully by their Creator.
As his disciples, we are invited to model this same posture with the strangers we encounter on our journeys. . They become traveling companions. Like us, their steps are often uncertain ones. They, too, will experience joy and sorrow; happiness and regret. Like Jesus, we bear the responsibility to ensure that our encounters with them leave them feeling safe, loved, and valued.
Each person is a gift from God, endowed with talents, treasures, creativity and graces sufficient to change their world. Too many, though, walk away from their experiences with strangers and loved ones damaged. Their encounters wound them and cause them to doubt their worth. Their journey becomes a troubled one, and the courage needed to take the next uncertain step is diminished because of what they fear.
Into such a world and such a life a little love must come. It may be that the stranger we encounter next on our journey is in need of such love. As disciples of the one who gave love freely to all, and whose love altered the landscape of their horizons – we embrace the call to welcome all. Our warm embrace of the stranger with words and actions that signal openness and welcome may be the solace they are looking for.
In its new mission statement, the United Church of Christ declares they are called to welcome all. This isn’t just a commitment to political correctness or mere kindness. It is a commitment to engage the stranger in such a way that we inflict no harm upon them and that we create the space needed for healing, for wholeness, and for relationship to emerge.
To orient your entire self to see another as ally, as friend, as companion changes how you walk in the world. To greet the stranger with love, affection, kindness and acceptance is to begin to open up the whole world to shalom. Our hearts have been seeking pathways to this way of being for a very long time.
Begin to orient your heart towards a welcoming of the stranger.
Let your heart lead you to the goodness of those around you.
Embrace the full humanity of your traveling companions and learn the art of a good welcome.
Only then will the peace that passes understanding come. The mysteries we encounter along the way are engaging us and asking us to be open to the heart of another. May your pathway be rich with those who share with you the joy of a welcoming hand and heart. And may we all find healing in the loving heart of a God who journeys with us Into the Mystic.