Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow
~ Jeremiah 22:3
The widow. The orphan. The stranger.
The Hebrew scriptures are full of stories of people from all walks of life, but among the most valued are the roles of those who were most vulnerable; The widow, orphan and the stranger.
One of the most striking statements I encountered this week was of that of a coworker who just lost her husband. As she shared of the things she has been experiencing, including all of the things that she must do as the surviving spouse, she stated, "I am learning how to be a widow."
Her words were filled with vulnerability, and of courage, all at the same time. It was a declaration, while also a reminder of the loss that she has encountered.
While a lot has changed in society concerning these three roles, our need to care for these folks has not.
I grew up wirh a great grandmother who took the understanding of the stranger to heart. Often she would set an additional plate at the table, reminding us, "We must be ready for the stranger that might happen by."
This grew out of a time when as a child, she and her family traveled the Old National Road in a wagon into the new frontier. They would stop at the homes of strangers along the way, and were often invited in for dinner. She shared that many times there would already be an extra setting at the table, as if to say, "We were expecting you."
Hospitality to the widow, orphan and stranger is something we can all extend and experience. Being instruments of the living Christ means that we are agents of hospitality to those around us, offering comfort and words of welcome.
For any of us, our role can and does change throughout our life. Being present in those roles, or being those offering hospitality, is our reminder that caring for the least of these, is the most important role that we will ever encounter.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.