One of the consistent messages of the Bible is the need to care for widows and orphans. For example, Deuteronomy has this injunction about harvest time:
“Whenever you are reaping the harvest of your field and you leave some grain in the field, don’t go back and get it. Let it go to the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so that the Lord your God blesses you in all that you do.”
Deuteronomy 24:19 CEB
While I take these instructions literally – and I think they are meant to be taken so – what if we thought about widows and orphans metaphorically? What about the social widows – people cut off from the rest of society and who have no one else and nowhere else to go except to the church? What if we thought about spiritual orphans who feel lost and alone, not sure who God is and from where they came – but wondering? Or feeling orphaned by the church and looking to reconnect?
Often when people cross the thresholds of our churches they are searching for something they either have never had or have lost. What if God holds us as responsible for the spiritual and relational welfare of these searchers as for the widows and orphans to whom we seem to understand our responsibility? What if we need to be as attentive to their needs for nourishment and shelter of their souls as of their bodies?
The Deuteronomy passage made me think about our Sunday morning’s (in the church generally and not just the church where I serve and worship). Our time and attention tend to go to the people we know, the relationships that we already have. What is left for others to glean? Do we consume ourselves in relating to those already there and then leave nothing for those searching for the same meaningful relationships and connections?
I continue to ponder this question of those who leave and may not have connected. This may not be very concrete or practical but the metaphor makes me think more deeply about how I spend my time and affections and attention.