Claiming Hope: An Introduction

Pull up a chair, let me pour you a cup of coffee, offer you a slice of cake or some cheese and fruit, and let’s talk. Amazing things happen around the table as we engage all of our senses. Taking bites of delicious food, hearing laughter and stories from friends, sharing details and plans and dreams of our own while looking into one another’s eyes. We suddenly find ourselves incredibly present with those around us. It is difficult to disengage while at the table without someone noticing.

And in those moments, you and I can discover what it means to make room for others. Maybe your day was incredibly full, or I am simply worn out, or we have so many other things to get to once we push back our chairs and put our dishes in the sink that it’s hard for us to focus. But I think there is an unspoken agreement when we come to the table: we will show up.

And that’s what this blog is about – learning how to show up for ourselves and for others with hope. Even in the midst of the messy details of life and the desires of our heart that struggle to come to fruition.

I have been described as a firefighter – when injustice rears up in the world around me, my instinct is to move towards the pain rather than away from it. I long for a world where people have not been pushed aside, seen as less worthy, less valuable than they are. There are many who have been wounded by greed, corruption, poverty, violence, and racial and gender inequality. They survive in the shadows, unseen and forgotten on the margins. I can’t live comfortably in the world and pretend they are not there, and I have to be reminded to pray for people who knowingly can. I can’t pretend I am thriving while they are barely surviving for lack of true relationship, an avenue to advocate for themselves, or someone to simply validate their experience and hear their story. I have to move towards them because the gospel and God’s own radically generous love towards me compel me to.

In addition to my friends and family, the ones I particularly want to show up for are the displaced, the ones who chose to move away from their homes and the ones who were forced out.

I am an American, but I am first and foremost a Christian, so biblical truths from God’s Word are the guiding compass of my life. I try to remember that my allegiance is to the Lord first, but in the big and small decisions, I admit I am not always quick to consult Him before rushing into an answer. However, when it comes to hospitality – to welcoming the stranger – God has been very clear. Abundantly clear. Painstakingly clear.

This is our role as Christians, to show up for the ones who are typically unseen, or pushed aside, or intentionally left out. God invites us into a relationship with the immigrant and the refugee and to be moved by their stories. He calls us into action through hospitality, something Henri Nouwen refers to as a “muscular virtue with the capability of disarming enemies, healing age-old rifts, and overcoming violence.”

We are called to exercise this muscular virtue because our new neighbors may be brothers and sisters in Christ whom we can’t allow to be pushed to the margins. Or they have yet to fully understand the gift of grace and the life they can have through Jesus. We might be the one person willing to introduce them to Jesus. We are called because our good God exercised this same muscular virtue when he reached out and took a hold of us.

God doesn’t want any of us to miss the chance to witness lives being changed. He desires that we will submit to discomfort and unfamiliarity so we may see others He sees as He sees them and be transformed.

So, would you be willing to have another cup of coffee and continue this conversation with me? We may not be starting at the same point, but that’s okay. If we agree to show up and to listen, I think this exchange can be mutually beneficial. Okay, hand me your cup…

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