December 2008
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Billie Silvey
Welcoming
Strangers
Los Angeles is a city made up of
people from all over the world.  It
gives us the opportunity to get to
know and welcome into our
homes and fellowships a vast
variety of people.  As we
welcome them, we never know
what to expect.

A few surprise us with their
negative attitudes--their hatreds,
prejudices and fears.  But many
surprise us the opposite
way--they inspire and challenge
us with their kindness, openness
and faith.
The same thing happened to the Old Testament Patriarch
Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8).  Approached by three strangers,
Abraham and his wife Sarah provided water for them to wash,
shade to rest under, and food to eat.  The strangers turned out to
be angels.

In case we might miss the point, the writer to the Hebrews
explains, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing,
some people have entertained angels without knowing it"
(Hebrews 13:2).

Frank and I have enjoyed opening our house to various people.  
We have invited singles, writers, community people and other
groups into our home.  We like to mix groups--inviting some
church people and some community people so they can get
acquainted.
You never know who might turn out to
be an angel.  Often it's the one you least
expect. That's why we should be gracious
and welcoming to all
Entertaining Angels
The Poor and Needy
Racial and Cultural Diversity
For too many people, there are two kinds of people in the
world--people like us and people who are different.  
Strangers may seem different, but then again, who is exactly
like us?  If we offered hospitality only to those like us, our
circle would be very limited indeed.

We can learn a great deal by opening our hearts, lives and
homes to people who are culturally and racially different
from us.

Our congregation has a ministry called FriendSpeak to
foreign nationals in Los Angeles who want to improve their
conversational English.  Each Tuesday, we meet at the
church building with the student who has been assigned to
us.

I just completed a series of lessons with a woman from
India who was here for an extended visit with her son.  As
we grew to know each other, we were surprised by how
much we had in common.

Before she returned to India, she and her son visited our
home, and since she left, we've corresponded by email.  
We're looking forward to seeing each other again next year.
The German-American artist Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990),
was a Quaker who produced  wood engravings to illustrate
books.  He became a friend of Catholic social activist
Dorothy Day.  His  
Christ of the Bread Line (above) shows
Jesus' identification with the poor and suffering (Matthew
25:34-40).

Ministries of the Culver Palms Church of Christ have served
the homeless and working poor in various ways.  We
maintain a two-pronged food pantry--one part with sack
lunches for homeless people and the second with canned
goods for people with can openers, pans and stoves.

Our School Store provides school supplies for local
children.  And our holiday programs offer turkeys, groceries,
and toys.  An earlier ministry to help single parents get jobs
was the subject of my book,
God's Child in the City:
Catching God's Vision for Urban Ministry.

As we come to know needy people, we find that they help
us as much as we help them.  Those who don't have savings,
investments and insurance to count on challenge us with their
reliance on God and their love for their fellow strugglers.

What angels has God brought into your life?  And what
angels may you have missed by not welcoming strangers into
your home, your church and your life?
Roots of Hospitality
God's Feasts