In the middle of the growing contentious issue regarding refugees in America, I came across a moment of brightness in the conversation. I found it in the story of Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers, of Bethany Lutheran Church in Bainbridge Island, Washington, who had an idea:
“I recognized pillows as a symbol of hospitality. Who invites a guest without offering a pillow? And I found a great deal on pillows at a local retailer. What a fitting way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the ministry of Jesus, who associated with the outsiders, Samaritans and lepers, and who himself was a refugee as an infant” (Pritchett, Rachel, “Providing Comfort,” Living Lutheran magazine, November 2017, p. 39).
The church blessed 500 pillows in their sanctuary by tossing them into the air before delivering them to Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Northwest, which provides services to refugees.
It’s ideas like this that we need to bring to the table when there is a potentially divisive topic. Instead of arguing about a tough situation, let’s do what we can to provide help to those in need.
Looking to Jesus as our example in this, as Stumme-Diers did, is key. Jesus did not selectively serve. He saw all people simply as human beings in need and healed them, spent time with them, reached out to them in love. He said “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Let us as a church be ambassadors of comfort first and foremost to all, no matter what our individual stance may be on any given conundrum. Let us be echoes of Christ’s call of care. As the Bible says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2). The first step may be providing a pillow.