Hello CCOV Community,
A little over a week ago Clint and I went on a Sunday afternoon drive to see the Buddhist Temple near Chino Valley, AZ. We took our Prius Prime on some bumpy but seemingly-decent dirt roads for a good ten miles into ranch land. While the mountaintop temple was closed, we did get a little glimpse of it from the road. When we turned around and headed back for civilization, we started bumping along a bit harder and realized that we had a flat tire. It was really hot and dusty, and we were already thirsty. Clint quickly discovered that Prius Primes do not have a spare tire or even a donut—just a pump and some sealant. Soon after we pulled over, three parties of folks stopped their vehicles to help. Several men tried to get the sealant and pump to work (they didn’t because the gash in the tire was too large). Meanwhile, women gave us cold water. I ended up calling AAA for a tow, and one of the men refused to leave us until the tow truck got there—over an hour later. In short, we were so touched and impressed with the kindness of those people that hot afternoon, though we were complete strangers to them.
So often we get fed up with the seeming nastiness of humanity that we see daily in the news. What we often forget is that people are mostly good—even strangers. Our Bibles have quite a lot to say in about rendering aid to the stranger—even though those stories are often fraught with tensions and risk. Jesus identifies himself as a stranger to be welcomed in Matthew 25:35: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” The Rev. Jane Fisler Hoffman of the UCC Southern California/Nevada Conference once wrote this: “As our nation struggles with immigration issues and the enduring sins of racism, sexism, homophobia and the chasm between rich and poor; and as the nations of the world engage one another across hostile lines, we who follow Jesus, the stranger-savior, have an urgent mission to live this stranger life with him” (https://www.ucc.org/stranger-encounters). Yes, there are risks when interacting with strangers, but Christians are repeatedly called to assume such risk; Jesus did. I wonder if we can come to expect the best of one another rather than the worst and if we can always be as kind to strangers in need. I’ll end with another powerful, well-known verse about strangers, Hebrews 12:1-2: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Clint and I are very grateful for the people who helped us, even though we were strangers to them.
Grace and Peace to You,