Thursday, March 03, 2005

Welcoming the "Stranger"

In benedictine thought- a monk is to view his brother as none other than Christ. In this way of thought the monks treat one another in total love and service. But the monks don't stop there. Any stranger that comes into their midst is to also be treated as Christ. Wow, how different our lives would be if we viewed others with that kind of radical "hospitality".

Ruban Garcia is someone who shows that kind of hospitality. He's the director of Annunciation House in El Paso , a ministry and home for illigal immigrants who come from Mexico to the U.S. to find work.

According to Garcia "As we reflected on scripture," he recalls, "we realized that the God we believe in is one who first and foremost identifies with people who are oppressed, people who are enslaved, the stranger in our midst, the poor. We realized what we needed to do was place ourselves among the poor in our own area."

Annunication House in a sense is a missional/emergent church- reaching out to people whom God has called beloved but will have a difficult time finding a community of acceptance in the U.S. Annunciation House also opperates within the benedictine tradition of a community who all share in responsibility. Staffer Megan Hope says,

"You don't know from one day to the next if you'll be helping somebody get medical assistance or get hooked up with a lawyer, or if you'll be running some errand, or talking to the Mexican consulate, or unclogging a toilet."

I'm not writing this to stir up a political debate but to point out in a real way the radical nature of the Christian Practice of Hospitality.

I think Ruban Garcia sums it up nicely:

"Like our guests, all of us are on our own solitary journeys, with moments of doubt and loneliness and isolation and frustration, and with an incredible need for faith and hope."


"For God there is no such thing as an illegal human being."

So is there anyone who, when coming into our midst, is "out of bounds" when it comes to grace?

So is there anyone who, when coming into our midst, is not the face of Christ staring at us wondering how we'll respond?

Read about Annunciation House in Sojourner Magazine by clicking here

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