Do you remember when E.T. first came out?
It was literally a block-buster! And rightly so, what a great film that finally proved, once and for all, that aliens existed in our universe!
I never really doubted – did you?
To be terrestrial is to be related in some way to earth – as distinct from “other planets”!
So “Extra” terrestrial is something from “out there” or not from earth, coming to earth – it is “extra” – thus, E. T. stands for: Extra-Terrestrial a “thing” originating from outside or beyond earth!
So that makes all of us “Terrestrials”. We belong on earth, we are from this earth, and it is all a gift from God who made it.
Another word we have to describe E. T.’s is Alien. Many of us have seen various science fiction films with both friendly and non-friendly aliens and so on.
Some of us may even believe that aliens “out there” exist, and there are some weird and wonderful theories out there, by some very weird and wonderful people – but that’s irrelevant for my purposes here.
When Adam and Eve did the only thing they were not to do (Gen 3), they who had been created by God for the earth and the earth for them, were now banished by God within the earth – they became “alien” to the loving, saving, tender mercy of God.
And by the time we get to the end of Genesis, we discover that Joseph’s family sought refuge in Egypt because of famine, and so they became “aliens” in Egypt.
This life-saving “alienation” turned, over time, into a 400 year enslavement. They were no longer aliens finding rescue, but enslaved “aliens” needing rescue.
Their movement into Egypt to survive became an existence not worth living, they were truly “alien, estranged and excluded from anything that was good;
victims of Empire and power politics; victims of dehumanisation; victims of the ever-spiralling consequences of sin…
“…any tree but that one guys, otherwise you will lose it all.”
Forgotten by the human race; seemingly abandoned by the God of Abraham, hated by the Egyptians and literally enslaved-unto-death by Pharaoh.
So when Moses came, and by God’s power and might, a miracle of Redemption, they found themselves in the wilderness, heavy-laden with Egyptian loot and food – they were free and becoming free.
God had done the impossible, he had humbled an Empire, he had proven who is the True King, and he had set his seal and heart upon this rag-tag bunch of smelly slaves who had in all likelihood, forgotten God over the 400 years, and who could blame them?
So by the time we get to Deuteronomy, 40 years after their rescue from Egypt, there was a new generation of God’s Covenant people
– for the old generation had simply complained too much about wanting the leeks and garlic of Egypt and all manner of petty things –
Moses reminds them 11:18: “[This God who is God over all], he defends the cause of the fatherless, and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”
This verse is one of many calls to “remember.”
Remember that you were foreigners and aliens in a land not your own.
Remember how God rescued you and made you his people: “I will be your God and you will be my people” is the repeated shorthand cry of God to the world!
So built into the heart of the Covenant is something that is straight from the heart of God: Welcome the alien; love the alien; feed the alien; clothe the alien; house the alien.
They were to do this because God did it to them. So to do these basic acts of humanity is God-like. So that what was foreign, becomes family; What was helpless becomes helped and what is unloved becomes loved.
It is a simple biblical transaction: Because God…..so you. And the implication is simple. Every time you do this for the alien, you reverse the effects of the Fall, you humanise a dehumanised race, you put a face to the faceless and a name to the nameless. Because God…..so you!
And this is not optional, it is a powerful, wonderful invitation from our saving God to do what he has done for others, but thinking of ourselves for a second, it is exactly what God has done for us.
Deuteronomy 10:12-22 says,
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are alien, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Notice what the Scriptures says:
Love God, walk in his ways with all your heart.
God is God over all, and in love chose you.
Yes the sign of the covenant is circumcision – but really – it’s about your heart – make that the true sign of my covenant with you.
And when you do that, you will do what I do…you will love the alien…
God’s heart is for our heart to be like His heart.
World history belongs to the powerful and the wealthy.
It belongs to the Pharaoh’s and Caesar’s of earth.
Today it belongs to Banks and Corporations, and a creeping idolatry of militarism: fear, greed and suspicion is the narrative.
God’s covenant people today are those who have a living faith in Christ.
Where Israel in the OT failed, Christ our Redeemer succeeds.
There is one covenant, it is in the body and blood of Christ.
For the Egyptian rescue is a blueprint of our rescue.
What YHWH did in time and space for ancient Israel, he does for the believer now in time, space and eternity.
And in this volatile world where people are cruelly:
(i) locked into a land (e.g. Gaza) – and sinfully parodied in multiple Palestinian refugee camps in multiple Middle Eastern countries – aliens – all of them.
I’ve been to one in Beirut and in the West Bank itself and they are the most dehumanising, pitiful places I have ever been; it breaks my heart.
(ii) expelled from a land for any number of reasons, we could name Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan as the sad, but usual suspects.
It is right that the Church raise these injustices, and that our hearts also break.
Our TV screens have been full of desperate men, women and children, fleeing their home and in doing so, becoming aliens: Powerless; Hopeless; Homeless.
Some can add “childless” to this awful humanitarian disaster!
Churches up and down this country and other agencies have ignored the lethargic UK government response, and made homes and rooms available.
The church has stood up and said:
“NO” to human brutality; “No” demonization; “No” to passivity and half-heartedness; “No” to satanic indifference.
The Church has stood up and said:
“Yes” to the heart of God; “Yes” to humanity; “Yes” to response and action”; “Yes” to social action inspired by the Spirit of God; and “Yes” to the purposes of God – which are all “Yes and Amen” in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, do not be like the older generation that left Egypt. Mumbling and grumbling their way to a wilderness grave.
Do not fear the media narrative or political discourse of fear and self-protection; or of a Muslim invasion or greedy poor people who frankly wouldn’t mind earning more than a dollar a day!
I do not know what every persons particular view is; I don’t know what political or media or personal narrative we all have, but as Christians, we are called to a different narrative – a Gospel narrative – a Good News narrative.
In the tradition of the OLD and of the NEW, and in the best tradition of Church History when she is at her most radiant and prophetically alert;
We are called to act.
We are called to love the alien.
We are witnessing an Exodus of Biblical proportions right before our eyes, aliens everywhere, terrestrials all of them, and the heart of God is the same now as it was then.
“As it is, they desire a better country….”
Let us by our prayers and actions and love for God ensure the rest of this verse is proved true,
“…that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their
God, for He has prepared for them a city.”
Blessing (Hebrews 13:20-21):
“Now may the God of peace who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.”
Excellent. A clear reminder of what we are called to do or be, called not to do or be as well as what we are doing and being. Thank you
Thank you very much Martin. Good to see you here.