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Timothy Lamm: Reflections on Impact from New York City…

Sitting in the window of a coffee shop overlooking Lexington Avenue and Grand Central in New York City. Watching as so many people pass by.

Thinking over the theme More Than Welcome and what it means to welcome the stranger, I find myself coming back to the question, “Who really is a stranger?”

We live in a world and a time when we are raised and taught,
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Don’t take things from strangers.”
“Avoid strangers.”

But is that really the thought process that we, as a people, and as Christians, should have? To avoid the stranger and to look the other way? To make it seem as if the stranger doesn’t matter simply because they are not part of our life?

While sitting here, I see men in business suits with briefcases heading to work in their office. I see women holding the hands of their small children going about their morning. I see teens on bikes and scooters hanging out with their friends.

I see men and women in bright yellow construction vests heading to build the next skyscraper for the rich to live in luxuriously, while a homeless man with socks filled with holes, sleeps right there, on the street below.

Each person I see is an individual. A life. A story. A stranger.

And when it comes to the idea of being more than welcoming and of welcoming the stranger do I really see the individual, the person, the life, their need?

But should I, someone who doesn’t know any of the people who have passed me by, be concerned with their story?

How can I justify not loving the least of these? How can I watch as the world passes by and not even bother to see that each of these individuals are loved, are worthy, are equal in the eyes of their, of our, Creator, when our call as Christians is to love and to welcome all?

Instead of turning the other way when we see those who are different than us, whether here or at home, in our workplaces or our schools, in our world, and even our churches. People whose skin is different, whose beliefs are different, whose political ideas don’t match up with ours. Why do we turn away from these as if they don’t matter or have a place?

We’re told that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female because we are all one in the love of Christ Jesus. If we look for the Lord in one another, we will see that we aren’t so different after all.

And can you, for just a second, imagine how different I, you, our church, our country, and eventually even our world, could be, if, in our day-to-day lives and in our pursuit for more; for truth and for justice and for equality, if we would reach for others with open arms, rather than crossed arms to push them away?

For when we get to heaven, we will all be one, just as it should be. So what can we do now? What if we truly pray and truly mean, “Father, as it is in heaven, so let it be, on earth, in us, and in me.”

Timothy Lamm
Impact Mission Camps