Our eternal destinies hang on two phrases: “I was a stranger and you took me in” and “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Jesus gives us two options when relating to strangers: we can welcome them into our lives or not. The Matthew 25 parable is about nations, not individuals.
As we approach the season of Advent, we find Ezekiel being outrageous in true prophetic style. If we pride ourselves on being spiritual seekers, Ezekiel insists that it is God who seeks us out and not the other way around. Can’t we prize the maturity of knowing who we are and of finding communities where we feel at home? Ezekiel informs us that we are in fact so lost that God must take the trouble to find and rescue us.
As a child, I studied many different images of the Good Shepherd. I saw the official version every Sunday in the stained glass window above the altar at First Congregational Church in Tempe, Arizona. That shepherd was a tall, friendly-looking, 30-something man dressed in a full-length white robe. The image is probably the most familiar representation of the Good Shepherd. Yet the beautiful and peaceful image didn’t jibe with my own experience.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.