” . . . refuse welcome to strangers . . .”

“But violent thunder gave warning of the punishment that was coming on those sinners. They suffered a well-deserved punishment for their great wickedness. No nation had ever hated strangers so bitterly. Other people had been known to refuse welcome to strangers who came to them, but these people made slaves of those who were their guests and who had shown them kindness.  Every nation will be punished if it does not welcome foreigners,  but these people, who had earlier welcomed the foreigners with happy celebrations and treated them as equals, later made them suffer cruelly.”  (Wisdom 19:13-16, on of the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament)
Not long after I awakened this morning and began to wonder about “Wednesday Wonderings,” a word arose to the occasion, “absurd.”  I allowed the word to swish around in my brain for a few moments, waiting to see where God’s Spirit was leading me.  Next I was taken to a memory of a scene from a popular Disney movie, “Finding Nemo.” I was focused on one of the places in the movie when the flock of seagulls incessantly cries, “Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine . . .”  Absurd, hmm, mine,mine, mine, hmm . . . and it all came together.  That’s when I knew I needed a photo of “the absurd,” and I recalled this photo I took a few years ago of the  Arizona Nut House.  (It’s really the sign outside a tourist trap in Arizona that sells lots of nuts, but hey, it’s pretty clever.  Customer parking for the nut house . . . a little absurd don’t you think?
The blooming barrel cacti were all around the nut house so I just included that photo to lift the mood.
Sometimes we have to step back from something and call it what it is, absurd.  Cartoons like “Finding Nemo” and other forms of art can often help us see ourselves and actions for what they can become – absurd.  Seeing a flock of seagulls incessantly screaming, “Mine!” can allow us to see how absurd we seem at times when our fear, greed, and other destructive urges take us down a path of hurtful decisions and behaviors.
The passage from the book of Wisdom that I quoted today is referring to the Egyptians, and their abuse of the foreigners in their land, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph – the Israelites.  What an indictment God laid upon the people who not only failed to welcome strangers, but treated them cruelly as well.
I feel called this morning to follow the urging of God’s Holy Spirit and name the current state of affairs in our country with the ban as absurd.  I know many will disagree.  That’s fine, but I have to follow the urging of God’s Spirit.  I’m not naive.  I worked as a pastoral counselor with survivors of the Pentagon terrorist attack on 9/11.  I get the need for national security.  However, I still cannot name the current attempt to maintain our national security with a ban against particular religious groups as anything short of absurd.
I am praying for our President and all of our leaders.  I am praying for the refugees.  I am praying for all of you.  I pray that God will help us as a nation move from the absurd to justice.  I pray that every day God will help me welcome the stranger in to my life, whenever and wherever I encounter them.  How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, WV
Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm” Teen Depression & Suicide: Teens Surviving the Storm

Teen Depression & Suicide: Teens Surviving the Storm

This is a video about teens and difficult times in life.



~ by revgenelson on February 8, 2017.

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