Room for strangersBy Louis A. Lehman Albany, Ore.
I applaud Carmen Schrock-Hurst for “Hallmark Holidays.” I have never aspired to the Hallmark style of life. I agree that we need to free ourselves from comparison to the Hallmark myth and get down to reality, which means, as Henri Nouwen suggests, “to live a compassionate life.” He says this “requires us to follow the example of Jesus and enter into the suffering of our fellow human beings, becoming weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable and powerless with the powerless.”
In my 13 years as chaplain at the Mennonite Home in Albany, I have, by God’s grace, tried to model the compassionate lifestyle. And now in retirement I have discovered, as I help to feed the homeless in my own community, that the poor have much to teach us about compassion. I have observed how a poor, elderly couple has opened their dilapidated home to two homeless men who had been sleeping under a bridge. As Mother Teresa stated, “The poor don’t need our pity, they need our love and compassion.”
Are we willing to become vulnerable to strangers and open our homes to the homeless? Many of these people are in desperate need of relief from hunger and cold and need shelter, food and clothing to survive. That’s called “radical discipleship,” not the ideal Hallmark style.
Can we do any less when we know that the incarnate Son of God, “though he was rich, became poor for our sakes that we through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9)? Is there room for the stranger in our inn?
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