It's 1926. An absentminded magizoologist named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York City. As Scamander disembarks at Ellis Island, a customs official questions him about the contents of his suitcase. The expanding suitcase is full of magical livestock, but Newt is able to hide the magic from the No-Maj (muggle or non-magical) official. Among the fantastic beasts in his suitcase: a nifler (a mischievous platypus-looking creature with an attachment to sparkling objects); several occamys (aggressive winged serpents with the ability to shift size); a thunderbird (a giant eagle with the ability to create storms); and a variety of other magical creatures.

The eccentric Brit is a conservationist and guardian of fantastic beasts. He is en route home from a global excursion to find and catalog various magical fauna. His mission is to “rescue, nurture, and protect” magical creatures, while educating fellow wizards about them. The creatures are very near and dear to his heart, and the purpose of his life. He knows they are deeply misunderstood beings. Newt's deepest desire is for everyone to see why these fantastic critters are important and need to be protected. He knows they have a role to play in the wizarding world.

Scamander is a custodian and an intercessor of sorts. It is in this vocation that he resembles Jesus.

Newt has a deep love for the magical creatures pushed to the margins of the wizarding world. He lives in solidarity with these beings in need of protection and care. He wants to break down the prejudice and animosity against them. He seeks out the fantastic beasts on the margins. He rescues, nurtures, and protects them. 

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In Jesus, God pointedly identifies with those on the outside of society – the poor and those on the margins. Jesus' love is universal and inclusive of all. He loves everyone equally, and in that love he makes a choice to stand in solidarity with the outcasts and the forsaken. Jesus breaks down societal barriers and seeks out those on the margins. He sees, touches, and heals without regard to status.

This inclusive love is the mark of every disciple of Jesus: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Our welcoming and our embrace of others professes the vitality of our love for Jesus. To paraphrase Rev. Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Evangelism and Reconciliation, we live out our vocation as disciples of Jesus in “radical welcome.” We welcome as Christ welcomes. We embrace as Christ embraces. We go out into the world to seek out and to make room for the voices and the gifts of those who have been pushed to the margins; of those who have been excluded, cast out, silenced, and closeted. We make space in our communities, and our congregations, and in our lives for those who have been misunderstood and disempowered.

This radical welcome happens when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to tell others, “Come, bring who you are. May I know you better?” We receive the other on her own terms and we seek to deepen a relationship with her. We joyfully and humbly defer to others, and actively and intentionally listen to their voices and their stories. We express out love in radical welcome.

We follow in the footsteps of Newt Scamander to stand in solidarity with the marginalized and misunderstood. We labor with Jesus to seek out those who have been pushed to the margins of our communities and our congregations. We go to the highways and byways of our neighborhoods and our cities, and we welcome people. We love people – in every way we can.

We open our arms and our doors wide open. We go into the world to seek and to love those who are most deeply in need of God's love. And as we reach the margins of our communities and our congregations, as we go to our own frontiers, we discover that God is already out there – loving and inviting people into relationship. God is already there – comforting and healing those in need.

The call to welcome and to embrace those on the margins is also an invitation to look for what God is already doing in the world: a call to find God in all things, in all places, and in all people.

God is already in the world – and he bids us, “Come.” It is very profitable to accept his invitation and to direct our energy outward. It is good, necessary, and challenging work to pour our love onto the margins. It is also life-giving. It is in the margins of our neighborhoods and cities that we find fantastic humans that enrich and transform our communities, our congregations, and our lives. It is in the margins of our ideologies and lifestyles that we learn to welcome as Christ welcomes and to love as Christ loves. It is in the margins that we discover what God is up to in our world.

God calls us to be radically welcoming. He invites us to an excursion of care and hospitality. Prepare your suitcase, but travel light so that you can make space for the fantastic humans God is calling us to find and to love.