We find an old story being lived again these days with the arrival of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan in America. Often called “evacuees” and “refugees,” they’re people fleeing danger after the sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces and seeking safety in a land that most have never seen in person. Scripture would probably call them “strangers” and would directly and in no uncertain terms demand that those of us who live in this land provide food, care, clothing, and shelter as best we can. We are commanded by Scripture to treat the stranger as kin; to view their health, freedom, and safety with same importance that we view our own.
Sukkot reminds us that this current crisis is not new; that throughout history there have been strangers travelling in lands foreign to them, fleeing danger, and struggling to survive. And within the dwellings of this year’s Sukkot Village, we may receive anew the divine imperative to provide every ounce of care that we can for our kin in these situations. May our observance of Sukkot this year remind us that God demands and delights in generosity and hospitality. May we know again that holy tears are shed for the oppressed and all those who suffer. And may we strive anew, and in ever-widening fellowship, to put our diverse, human hands to sacred use in acts of love and care for all strangers, who are, in God’s realm, all kin.
Rev. Bill Neely
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton
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