Deuteronomy

Stranger in a Strange Land

Funny thing is, the Bible has a lot to say about being a stranger. In fact, the Bible seems to regard being a stranger as the normal human condition—maybe even the necessary condition for hearing the voice of God. Today's Scripture reminds us that we always need to keep in mind our status as strangers. "Treat the stranger right," it says, "because you've been strangers yourselves." So I'm going to talk today about one of my experiences of being a stranger. It's all about the many years that I spent—and am still spending—at Warm Springs [reservation in eastern Oregon]. That's why I'm wearing this ribbon shirt—it's one of the gifts I got while I lived there—some other gifts are on the altar today. But the greatest gift I got there was learning how to be what the Bible calls a sojourner—a stranger at home.

Moses and the Mission

In fact, there are people in this church—I'm looking at some of them—who don't know they are leaders yet. Maybe they think they are too young or too busy or don't know enough Bible. "I'm not a Moses," they'll tell me. And I'll say, "Good, because God doesn't need Moses. God needs you." So every time you start to worry that you're not enough, that you can't do it or that you don't have it, remember what Rabbi Susya said toward the end of his life: "God will not ask me why I was not Moses. God will ask me why I was not Susya." [story told by Martin Buber]