Several people at church have read and enjoyed Krish Kandiah’s book God is Stranger (with a foreword by Archbishop Justin Welby).
If you’re looking for some spiritual reflection this Lent, this could be a good book for you. It’s available to buy online or from local Christian bookshops, although we would happily lend a copy if people would prefer (just email stjohnsstmarysisleworth@gmail.
Each chapter deals with characters from the Bible, such as Abraham, Jacob, David, Ruth and Mary and their encounters with a God who always challenges what we think we know of him. God’s appearance in the Scripture can be majestic and mighty or in the form of a humble baby, born to live as a refugee child in a foreign land. Krish Kandiah asks us to reconsider our view on who is the stranger in each of these stories, and he links this to his own experiences in welcoming the stranger into his own home through refugee work and through fostering or adopting children.
As we venture through the book it becomes apparent that in each situation when God appears, he is teaching us to obey his call to neighbourliness, hospitality and welcome. We often have a fear of the stranger and ‘otherness’ but this is exactly who God calls us to love. Jesus made this very clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Lent is a time when people think about fasting. This week I have been struck by the Isaiah 58 reading a few times where God says that the real kind of fasting he looks for is to share food with the hungry, to provide the wanderer with shelter and to clothe the naked. Throughout this book you can almost hear God’s voice asking people to listen to Jesus’s demand for radical hospitality and to put our fears aside so that we can welcome in the stranger who may even be God himself. I hope this becomes our story more and more at St John’s with St Mary’s.