Sunday, November 14, 2021

Entertaining Angels and Nomads


 Let mutual love continue. 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, 

for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 

Hebrews 13:1-2

Yesterday I was finally able to watch the acclaimed 2020 film, Nomadland, a picture which received several Academy Awardsw, including one for its star, Frances McDormand. As the name suggests it is about the people we rarely give thought to who are essentially nomads, moving from place to place for a variety of reasons, including the search for work. McDormand's character Fern, loses her job when the plant where she is employed closes down. When her husband dies she sells everything and hits the road in a van.

The story is gritty, sensitive, and compelling, and the film is unique in that many of the other actors who become Fern's friend's are real-life nomads, some who are dealing with loss, others adrift from any community other than what they experience as they travel.They are people who demonstrate "mutual love" in different ways. 

So many of us have no idea that this group of people exists in our society and often look upon them with a degree of suspicion. In recent months our city, Belleville, has been trying to figure out the challenge of homelessness or the precariously housed. Some councillors and the mayor get it that what we are experiencing locally is a growing reality across the country. Still, at least one speaks about "taking care of our own" and wants to discourage people migrating into the city looking for help. She has proposed cutting funding to the local shelter by 30% because that is the percentage of people from elsewhere who stay at the facility. I'm dubious that she really considers the other 70% to be "our own."

As Christians we can keep in mind that our bible is full of stories of nomads, beginning in Genesis, right through to Jesus and his disciples. Often they were "sleeping rough" and on the last night of his earthly life Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a campsite for pilgrims. As uncomfortable or bewildered as we may be at times, how can we harden our hearts?  

I wouild certainly recommend Nomadland. And we can ask how our communities will be practically compassionate to those who may be 

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