The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The gift of the stranger

Life is a circle of sharing that is impoverished by barriers of exclusion

Making space for a stranger is a holy act. It enlarges the heart, loosens fear and reveals God's intention for human community. Just ask Richard Knowles. The retired publisher of the Denison [Iowa] Bulletin phoned me in response to December's editorial (page 66).

With delight he told me how new Hispanic residents breathed vitality into his small Iowa town. He described how the community showed compassion when 11 Latinos were discovered dead in a Denison railcar. One sentence stirred me: "We've been refreshed by human beings caring for each other."

We need such heart-stretching acts. Our personal and national vulnerability tempts us to close our hearts and doors, seeking the security of a world where everyone is just like us.

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February issue


Embracing diversity