A blessing of being part of the St. Augustine Seminar, helping to prepare for the Scripture studies, reflections, and homilies that will be part of the Lambeth Conference in 2020, has been reading more about 1 Peter. One book I found helpful is Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter’s Invention of God’s Household (Baylor, 2016), by Shively T. J. Smith. In her introduction, Dr. Smith writes, “Diaspora in 1 Peter reminds readers that they are members of a diverse and vast kinship requiring only acknowledgment and embrace” (page 19). Here are two of my favorite passages, both thought-provoking and timely, from the book:
Through the eyes of the author of 1 Peter, we discern that the basic makeup of Christianity is that we begin in diversity. Seeking and embracing diversity that is most radical and deviant from our current social norm is the necessary first step in ensuring that the formation of our Christian communities is aligned to an authentic Christian vision of radical fellowship and transformed group identity (pages 167-68).
The face of “the stranger” and “the foreigner” in our midst changes as quickly as political power changes hands. It is not a static interaction. Each new generation and distinct context must revisit old notions related to diaspora, immigration, and foreignness and consider them anew in light of what makes sense and is ethical and hospitable in their particular social historical setting (page 168).
Featured image by Laura James. See laurajamesart.com.