When I was young, I dreamed that I might be a rock star. I didn’t take the fantasy too far; never really gave it a try, but like so many before me, I tried on the notion in my fantasy life. (It fit in there sometime after wanting to grow up and be an astronaut, a policeman, a pro football player, and before attempting to be a lawyer. I have since settled on a lowly homeless minister for a vocation.)
Anyway, if I were a musician, I would call my band Strangers & Angels, I think. (However, I think I would prefer to be a blues musician rather than a rock star… but that’s just me.) Part of the problem is… I ain’t a musician. Can’t sing either. But aside from that, a great idea!!!
I don’t have any ambition to start a church. Jesus did that already, and so have plenty of misguided preachers since him who broke with the one Jesus started so they could have their own version. I started a novel once about a church in a fictional West Texas town called Subreption (the word means “lie”), and the name of the church in the unfinished novel was “The Last Church of Subreption.” The idea was that between the Methodists, the Baptists, and the Christian Church, the name “First” was being overused; and anyway, “Last Church” was going to be the last church Subreption would ever need. I have always been a little partial to that name, but now I think if I did start a new church, I would call it Strangers & Angels Church.
Maybe Strangers & Angels should be the title of a good Western novel! Maybe they could get Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall to play in the movie version.
Coming back down to earth, and to God’s humility a bit…
I was there when God started a “school of prophets” several years ago here in Lubbock, and I was the one to call it “Fat Beggars” in the end. “Strangers & Angels” sounds too cool. Part of the reason for going with “Fat Beggars” was that it is the embrace of an insult. You gotta have humility to wear that name. It has a way of weeding out the bums who come to us with ulterior motives. If they think we are going to elevate their pride, the name alone pretty much sticks in the craw, and they shun us too.
But I am looking at the Bible and finding Strangers & Angels to be the handy-dandy designation for God’s Hospitality. Hebrews 13:2 tells us not to neglect hospitality to strangers for some have entertained angels unaware! And that passage sends the mind of a biblical thinker straight to Genesis 18:1-20 where Abraham and Sarah do exactly that in one of the founding movements of the people of God for all time.
But that part about “unaware” is actually a bit unique as far as the Bible is concerned. For quite frequently, if not MOST of the time, when God’s Hospitality is shown to strangers, there is some divine revelation (an apocalypse). From time to time that revelation is a matter of information, of promise, of blessing, but it also, and most powerfully, is the revelation that God/Jesus is there at the meal shared in the Hospitality (Luke 24:35). And that most famous of Outreach/Homeless Ministry Bible passages, Matthew 25: 31-46, outlines the practice of God’s Hospitality shown to the poor, the needy, the vulnerable (and quite literally the “stranger”) and reveals that when this Hospitality is shown to such people it is shown to Jesus himself!
Wanna have tea with Jesus??? Invite the strangers and Matthew 25 tells us you are entertaining Jesus (unaware, I guess, unless you read Matthew 25).
Strangers & Angels.
It sounds like a motorcycle club in a cheap romance novel.
But it is a key that unlocks so much mystery in the life of faith. I hope you will consider it. And maybe, if you are a musician, pen the song!
(If you do that, please link this blog to it.)