I get asked a lot, “why do you travel so far for church?” It used to take me 2 hours and 30 minutes round trip to get from my village in Zürich to my beloved kirche in Luzern. It is more like 3 hours now and I will go every Sunday, if I am able.
Why? Because I go to a church that is a living, breath extension of God’s constant adoration and grace toward his children on Earth. All of them. We don’t care who you are, what you are wearing, with whom you are sleeping, in which language you recite the Lord’s Prayer.
And I’m an addict for that kind of authentic expression of agape. I consider myself lucky because the only thing I have to do is put my shoes on and start walking. I feel sorry for people who do not experience what I experience almost every Sunday (and other days) in that church.
This past Sunday was really something. There is some serious discussion in this world about how we view “foreigners.” Switzerland is not immune to this and there are seemingly constant votes on what to do about the foreigners. Sometimes, the discussion is civilized when “we” discuss foreigners in our countries.
But, sometimes it is not. And even that which is civilized is not always germane. A pertinent discussion about foreigners, in any country, would involve topics like quality of life, integration, procedural hurdles that might be intimidating, etc. Right?
On Sunday, Father L. stopped just before the end of the sermon. The very rough paraphrase into English is below. I do not do justice to his eloquence, nor are my words on a computer as powerful as hearing them from a Catholic priest standing in the hallowed sanctuary of the oldest building in Luzern. Nonetheless, I think these words explain “why” I travel so far for worship.
When we look at a foreigner as anything other than a living, breathing child of God, we turn our back on our Christianduty. I have never used this word “Christianduty.” Before today. Foreigners are not a subset of humans. They are fellow pilgrims, travelers who have left their homelands. They deserve compassion from us because it is not easy to live in this country, to be labeled “foreign.” Anyone judged as “foreign” is immediately branded with the label of “not belonging” in this world. To not belong to the place you live – it is sad, frightening, lonely. And it is not what we stand for here, for here…it is our Christianduty to make certain we do not contribute to this feeling of not belonging. Everyone belongs here.