Redcliffe’s mission journal, Encounters, was relaunched earlier this year and focused on the topic of hospitality. My contribution was an article comparing and contrasting the biblical stories of two vulnerable and displaced children. Here are the details and an extract from the beginning.
Contemporary life in the West seems to be increasingly marked by a suspicion or fear of ‘the other’. While not wanting to overstate the case, there does seem to be a concerning trend in the West towards a self-absorption that leaves an inevitable vacuum of kindness, generosity and hospitality towards those unlike ourselves, or who are outside of our immediate sphere of experience. Consider these words of Walter Brueggemann:
‘Fear makes us selfish. Fear makes us do crazy things. Fear turns neighbors into threats. Fear drives us into a desperate self-sufficiency and a yearning for privatism. Fear drives to greed and idolatry. Fear refuses the other. And now we live in a culture of fear… perfect fear drives out love.’ (Walter Brueggemann, ‘All Seminary Chapel: Dr. Walter Brueggemann “1 John 4:7-21” Podcast, Fuller Theological Seminary, 29 April 2015 c. 8:00mins “Diving in and Casting Out” – Dr. Walter Brueggemann on 1 John 4:7-21)
The issue of unaccompanied asylum seeking children is a case in point…
The first text I looked at was 2 Kings 5:1-4, the story of a young Israelite girl who was captured and taken to be a slave in Syria. The second was the flight to Egypt of Jesus’ family when he was very young. Both are stories of desperation, but both give rise to hope as well.