By Rev. Ebony Grisom, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Lent is the time when the Church joins Jesus in His forty-day preparation to enter His public ministry. Unlike Jesus, we prepare every year, walking the Lenten road fasting, praying, and consecrating ourselves for just a closer walk with Thee. Lent is a season to respond intentionally to Jesus’ Call: to become displaced from the world as we know it, to enter the wilderness willingly, and seek refuge with our Savior.
As we prepare for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2018, we consider our Old Testament Scripture. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 calls us into the wilderness with the Israelites as they learn to live in right relationship with God, and each other. While the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments in the wilderness, here it seems that the heart of right relationship is not law, but memory. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (v.19). Remember how it felt to be captive to the oppressor’s culture, to be treated harshly because you were different than they. Remember that I saw you and kept you because I love you. Remember that I brought you out. Remember those who are still oppressed now that you are in the Promised Land. Remember the orphans, the widows, and the strangers. I love them, too.
As used here, orphan’s root means “to be lonely.” Some of us need not look farther than our mirrors to see lonely persons in our world. Many feel alone amidst a sea of people in a congregation, on committees, at a conference, at home or work, or scrolling through social media posts. Still others feel anxious and even uprooted by geo-political instability. The migration crisis affects the whole world: it is a crisis beyond our control. But God’s got the whole world all in God’s Hands… The Deuteronomy text reminds us to love the strangers in our midst, seek justice on their behalf. In responding to them, we respond to ourselves. Moreover, we respond to God. Living and loving justly saves the world. Amen.