"Everybody has got to eat!" That's what I tell my wife every time she's watching one of her nature shows and a wild animal starts stocking another. She gets so uptight and starts looking to change the channel. "Oh God, please let this [furry adorable little animal] escape this [mean @%&$ ugly beast]!" She'd look at me and say, "Don't! I don't want to hear it!" And then I'd get this grin on my face... "Everybody's got to..."... "ERIK, I MEAN IT!!" :D
My tribe has taken up Amos 6:1-8 as a dwelling passage for the next several weeks. Contemplating it today, Amos' words remain highlighted in my minds eye, "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall... but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!" I think of the significance to the acts of over indulgence and even lustful haste to which people would begin consuming the beasts before they are even out of the stall. Even more so, they neglect the hospitality of bringing the meal to the table in which to share with the likes of Joseph. Who is Joseph?! The outcast son of Jacob who found a home in... Egypt?!
Ellen Davis' chapter on 'Hosting God's Power of Life' and reflections on the story of Elijah seem to breath heavy over these images as I read them this past week. Focusing on the significances to open and unconditional hospitality while finding the greater need for equity and equality in all humanity regardless of culture, religion, or background; she graphically demonstrates how these examples and values still have significant impacts today.
I was particularly moved as Davis revealed in the story of how Elijah opened himself up to the plausible powers of death that killed this widows son, while he pleaded with God as to why he would kill him after his mother had done so much in care for him (2 Kings 4:18-37). Reflectively, it cast my thoughts on the past few visits our tribe has made to the local seniors home where they have been dealing with an influenza breakout and we willingly go into their home to lift spirits and pray for healing. While personally being fearful of infection, I deeply love spending time with these people - Gordon and his stories of veterinarian work, Annie and her memories of Newfoundland, Elvira as she stomps her feet to our singing like she's back in her black Pentecostal church community! Even Gene, who I think is more interested in seeing my wife then he is me, brings a joy to my heart as he tells me about where he went out the past week with his social worker.
"Everybody has got to eat." Indeed! But not at the cost of, "fathers [who] shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons [who] shall eat their fathers." (Ezek. 5:10) We must find the recognition of creating flesh and muscle on the dry bones of Joseph by entertaining the stranger and feeding those who are different from us! We must be willing to enter the places of marginalization and barrier for the sake of discovering commonality and mutual relational significance! We must learn that humans are friends, not food!!