Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
Our congregation gives us a chance to write out prayer requests and drop them in the offering plate. Later in the week these are distributed via e-mail and we are invited to pray for these petitions on our own. One couple in our congregation has the same petition every week: “World peace.”
I think we all want world peace. Maybe some do not, but I’m pretty sure all rational, sane, mature people think peace is better than war. Calm is better than chaos. Serenity is better than strife. Ultimately the best way to deal with an enemy is to convert them into a friend. I am not naïve. I realize some people do not choose to be friends – they benefit in some distorted way by remaining at odds with others. I know evil is real. But so are kindness, charity, and good will.
Most people are strangers waiting to be converted into friends. They don’t all have to be our best friends. Some can become acquaintances that we know at least well enough to put a name, face, and general idea of who they are all together.
It is in an effort to promote more friend-making and less fault-finding that I share a post one of my daughters wrote recently on Facebook. Carol Flores works for Greater Houston Interfaith Ministries. Her job has her travelling all over the Houston area where she meets people of literally every ethnic and religious persuasion you could possibly name. Her work led her to post the following:
An open letter to my Facebook friends:
I see all of your anti-Muslim memes and rhetoric and it makes my stomach turn. I have chosen not to respond because I know this forum is not one where meaningful conversations and changes of heart can happen. But know that when you post those things you offend me, many of my friends and even more of my professional colleagues. Of every faith.
Lots of ugly things have happened over the course of history in the name of religion. Of every faith. Even more really beautiful and inspiring things have happened over the course of history in the name of religion. Of every faith.
I encourage you to find ways to get to know people with different world views from yours. Learn about world religions. Meet people who practice a different faith. And if none of those work for you right now, at least please consider the first rule our mothers taught us: If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.
Me—wanting to stay in relationship but having a hard time in some cases