Everyone Should Have a Stake in It
What follows is a parable I use at Bridging that was recently published in The Coracle, the magazine of the Iona Community. Imagine that you are the largest cattle rancher in the state of Texas. Your daughter has been in California for the past two years, attending the University of California, Berkeley. If you are unfamiliar with Berkeley’s location, it is about ten miles east of San Francisco. And true to the region’s recent past, it is a bastion of progressive activism. If you know anything about Texas, then you know Texas is the polar opposite in terms of political leanings.
The holidays are approaching, and you decide you want your daughter to come home for Christmas. As an added incentive, you tell her you will send the family jet to fly her and any friends she’d like to invite to the ranch. You are not aware that during her time away, she has embraced a vegan diet, and every one of the friends she is bringing is a vegan too. You slaughter your most prime beef to prepare the best meal possible. Your guests arrive, but no one eats. You are perplexed and offended. Why are they abstaining after you have given them the best of everything? Jesus might have answered you this way, “You did well to invite them, but since you did not consider their preferences first, you did little to welcome them.”
Bridging Austin is a welcoming community because, as Hunter writes, “To welcome the stranger . . . is to welcome Christ. Believers or non-believers, attractive or unattractive, admirable, or disreputable, upstanding or vile—the stranger is marked by the image of God.”10 Consider these words from Jesus, “I pray that all of them may be one.” That is the objective of this chapter. That is what Jesus walked this earth to do—engage in a radical welcome that makes outsiders feel more like insiders.
Excerpted from the book Border Dance by Jimi Calhoun, Cascade Books (October 11, 2023)