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The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel is senior pastor of First Congregational UCC in Dubuque, IA. She is a speaker and author of several books including "'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough."

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Lillian Daniel: Can't Anyone Move Here?

December 23, 2014

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:2 

I recall that when I told people I was moving from the East Coast to Chicago, they asked me if I had family there.  

"No, I don't," I responded, now concerned. "Was I supposed to?"  Suddenly, I wondered if the Midwest was full of people related to one another and that I would be the only outlier. "It's a big city, right? I thought anyone could go."  

I did discover that a lot of people who are from where I now live may leave but later come back. There are huge family networks around Chicago, and even within in my small town extended families who are close enough to drive and eat Sunday lunch together.  

But there are plenty of sojourners here too. Plenty of people like me who moved here knowing no one. And at church, we all get thrown together. Just like in the Bible.  

There are extended clans and there are wandering strangers. God seems to claim us all. But for those of us who came like strangers to a strange land, the church plays a significant role. It may be our only intergenerational connection during the week, the only place we get a motherly hug, or the only place we get to smell a baby.  

I'd never call my church a family. It would insult them both.  

But for those of us far away from our families, the church is a tender place. Sometimes I wonder if the extended families at their Sunday lunches realize the role they may play in the life of a sojourner, with the kind words of an uncle, the encouragement of a mother or the curiosity of a child. These things are not to be taken for granted. 

During the holiday season, open my heart to the stranger in my midst, who may be an angel. Amen.


From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit

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