On Sunday afternoon, several of us attended a rally in the Delmar Loop organized to bring 65,000 Syrian refugees to St. Louis. You can read about the rally in The Guardian and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. To see hundreds of citizens – Christians, Muslims, and others – demanding hospitality and welcome for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations was incredibly moving. It was particularly poignant because Syrian Muslims are often portrayed as America’s enemies. I was reminded of Christine Pohl’s work on hospitality as a Christian virtue: “As a way of life, an act of love, an expression of faith, our hospitality reflects and anticipates God’s welcome. Simultaneously costly and wonderfully rewarding, hospitality often involves small deaths and little resurrections. By God’s grace we can grow more willing, more eager, to open the door to a needy neighbor, a weary sister or brother, a stranger in distress. Perhaps as we open that door more regularly, we will grow increasingly sensitive to the quiet knock of angels. In the midst of a life-giving practice, we too might catch glimpses of Jesus who asks for our welcome and welcomes us home.” Were 65,000 refugees to show up in St. Louis, sacrifices would have to be made. Yet I think many realizes that out of those sacrifices comes life and growth for all of us. Death and resurrection.

Still, Sarah Kendzior at Quartz cautions us not to forget the marginalized communities already in our city – specifically impoverished black St. Louisans. She writes: “The recent outpouring of support for Syrian refugees is a beautiful thing. It stands in stark contrast to the complacency toward Syrian suffering that dominated the four-year conflict until the conscience of the world was awakened by the arrival of refugees on European shores. St. Louis is seizing the opportunity to do something right. But it also must do right by its existing population—impoverished black St. Louisans who have struggled for years for the same opportunities and support. St. Louis has shown its generous spirit—the question is only to whom and how far it will extend.” I couldn’t agree more.

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