Speaking to the Soul – May 14


“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.” Isaiah 56:6

In the Old Testament, God’s people were often told to be welcoming to foreigners. God’s love was not confined to the Jews and they were reminded that, as a nation, they used to be foreigners in Egypt so it was only right that they should be generous and loving towards foreigners. The people of Israel had spent 400 years in Egypt so there was nothing that they didn’t know about the vulnerabilities and insecurities of being foreigners. The celebration of the Passover was a continual reminder of that time.

We live in a wonderfully diverse country which, over the centuries, has welcomed people from many nations. This continues to be the case. Some come to us as refugees and asylum seekers because of the dangers in their own homeland. It is vital that we welcome all foreigners and that the Church is a place where they can find security, compassion, understanding and love. I have been to many churches that have the flags of all the nations represented in the congregation. This is a wonderful way of affirming that we honour the different backgrounds and identities of all our brothers and sisters.

The welcome to people of all nations is clear in Isaiah but, in the coming of Jesus, the doors are flung open to everyone with even greater clarity. I’m very interested by the statues of Jesus that can be found around the world. He could have been depicted in many different ways but many of them show him with arms outstretched in love and welcome. I’m thinking particularly of the statues of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Christ the King in Lisbon, Portugal. They tower over those great cities and give people the continual reminder of the New Testament’s message that Christ opens his arms to all those who will come to him, whatever their background or nationality.

In what ways does your church seek to welcome people who come from different nations?

Lord, I worship you because you are the God of all the nations. Help me continually to pass your welcome on to other