Dave Alger addressed the reading from Genesis 18:1-10. It’s the story of Abraham and Sarah having three travelers stop by their tent and Abraham welcoming them with open arms and providing food, drink, and shady respite. And, we discover some passages later, that the three travelers are Yahweh and two angels.
So Rev. Alger titled his homily “The Strange Thing About Strangers.” And it was a wonderful sharing of insight into the story. An insight that moved the listener to a wider acceptance of humanity, of the strangers we meet. An insight that recognized that opening ourselves to the strangers around us yields bounteous value for both us and the strangers. For humanity and community.
I was privileged to have “Sunday Dinner” with David and his lovely wife, Sally, after the service. And we talked some more about his words. His insight.
My wife, Chris, shared that David’s comments led her to reach out to the stranger at the end of our pew, a young woman named Jennifer who is in line to replace Michael Clark as our musical accompanist during Sunday services. And in conversing with the stranger Jennifer, Chris and I discovered that she worked some years back with our youngest daughter Sarah. Sarah is now in Kansas working toward her bachelor’s degree and Jennifer shared that she has followed Sarah on Facebook.
What a small world! But how wonderful is the strange thing about strangers. The stranger, whether it’s Jennifer at the end of our pew, or the traveler (Yahweh), often turns out to not be such a stranger after all. In one way or another, the stranger is known to us; is a colleague of ours.
By closing the door on strangers, foreigners, we close the door on friends-of-friends, relatives that we may have never know but who share a common bond with us. Above all else, that common bond is that we are all humans. We are all residents of the same small globe that circles through space and ever so carefully nurtures our lives, hopes, and dreams.
The strange thing about strangers is that most of the time they really aren’t strangers. Love them. Embrace them. Just like Abraham and Sarah did.