“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have

shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  Hebrews 13:1-2


According to Greek tradition, the ancient Greeks gave similar instructions to welcome strangers through the concept of “xenia” where, according to mythology, gods and goddesses may disguise themselves as strangers as a test. The stranger could be Zeus in disguise. It was difficult to travel during these times as it was slow and filled with danger, real and mythical as described in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other plays such as “The Supplicants” trace refugees seeking asylum escaping forced marriage and violence in Argos. The dialogue shows the internal fears of the host city in receiving strangers and the challenges of the strangers in convincing Argos to protect them.


These ancient struggles are modern struggles as millions of people are on the

move to escape climate change, famine, political violence, and wars. Modern

Greece is challenged more now than ever.


Juneau may not be at the epicenter of refugees seeking asylum, but occasionally

I find myself challenged to follow God’s will. Two recent examples readily come

to mind. Early one morning on my walk, I spotted the wisps of smoke coming

from the woods in the Auke Rec Campground where I found a figure lying prone

on the ground, curled around a dying fire, wearing only moderately warm clothing

and no sleeping pad. It was so cold I could see my breath. The figure didn’t

move. Were they still alive? What should I do? Last week, on a windy day with

a hard rain, I was driving past the ferry terminal when I spotted a different figure,

jeans in shreds, wearing just a cotton hoodie. What should I do? How do I show

hospitality to the stranger? Should I? Throughout my lifetime, especially in my youth when I had no transportation and limited funds, I was welcomed into the homes of many strangers, here on and off the road system and abroad. Don’t I have an obligation to help a stranger in need even if it's unlikely they are an angel or Zeus in disguise?

Maybe the words in Ephesians 5:17 will help:

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.


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