Inspired by Exodus 12:43-13:2
“[T]here shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.” Exodus 12:49 (NRSV)
People tend to draw together based on what they have in common. Like gravitates toward like, and people want to feel as though they truly belong in their community. A shared history often helps to foster that sense of belonging.
When God established the Passover and led the Israelites out of slavery, he reminded them that they had been foreigners in a foreign land. As such, they were to be particularly hospitable to the foreigners who found themselves in the land of the Israelites, and that any foreigner who wished to be circumcised and live as the Israelites lived was to be welcomed as an Israelite, no different than one who was native-born. The shared history was not based on bloodlines, heritage, or place of birth; the shared history was based on entering into the covenant relationship with the God of Israel.
As Christians we often find our congregations segregating into distinct demographics, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; we should feel as though we belong in our worshiping communities. But we cannot use those demographics as entrance criteria, enabling us to bar people with different backgrounds or perspectives from worshiping with us. Our shared history is that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and all are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Whoever shares that history—whatever their citizenship or heritage, whatever their understanding of what it means or how to apply it to their lives—is a sister or brother with us in Christ.
Let us pray. Lord of all nations, you have called all people to you. Help us to welcome the strangers in our midst, that all may know your mercy and grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.