Anabaptists have a long history of suffering persecution and forced migration. They have often entered new lands as foreigners — strangers. Many of us can identify this experience in our family histories. But very few of us in North America actually know what that experience of “strangeness” is like. How, then, do we connect with and embrace the strangers that show up at our doors or in our communities? Ryan Dueck suggests that we need memory and imagination: memory of our story (be it our family story or the story of God’s people) and an imagination capable of empathizing.
“In the Hebrew Scriptures, the divine command to care for the stranger is tied directly to the fact that the people of Israel were also strangers once (Deuteronomy 10:19). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sums up all of the Law and the Prophets – and ‘all’ is a pretty comprehensive word, it should be remembered – in the simple exhortation to do to others as we would have done to us (Matthew 22:40). The former urges us to better memory, the latter to better imagination. We need both, if we are ever to develop the right kind of hearts. And once we begin to take these steps – once we try to remember and imagine in better ways – it becomes easier to intentionally move toward the stranger. ”
Read Ryan Dueck’s full article here.