The theme of welcoming the stranger can be seen throughout Scripture. Abraham and Sarah welcomed three traveling strangers, offering them hospitality and friendship, a place to rest and to eat. When Jesus was born, those who celebrated and visited and brought gifts were strangers. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the wounded man is helped, not by his own people, but by a stranger—a despised Samaritan.
“With the stranger lies surprise, new possibility, contact with that part of God and reality that we have never experienced before.” —Ronald Rolheiser
Parker Palmer, in his book The Company of Strangers says…
The role of the stranger in our lives is vital in the context of Christian faith, for the God of faith is one who continually speaks truth afresh, who continually makes all things new.
God persistently challenges conventional truth and regularly upsets the world’s way of looking at things.
It is no accident that this God is so often represented by the stranger, for the truth that God speaks in our lives is very strange indeed.
Where the world sees impossibility, God sees potential. Where the world sees comfort, God sees idolatry. Where the world sees insecurity, God sees occasions for faith. Where the world sees death, God proclaims life.
God uses the stranger to shake us from our conventional points of view, to remove the scales of worldly assumptions from our eyes.
God is a stranger to us, and it is at the risk of missing God’s truth that we domesticate God, reduce God to the role of familiar friend.
“Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” —Hebrews 13.2