"Don't Forget to Show Hospitality to the Stranger"
by Wendy Guion
Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your home to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2
I love this passage from the book of Hebrews. As a pastor I always held an open house in the parsonage during the Christmas season. I baked bread and cookies, made punch, prepared to extend hospitality to the members of my church. When I first started, many of the members of my church were, in fact, guests or strangers as another translation says it. Through a simple act of hospitality the members of the church I served became friends. It is one of the things that I miss the most about serving a church. I’ve even gone so far as to think about doing a similar event here in Bowling Green. It has not happened yet but after this part of the journey we are making together is over, it may.
Introverts not withstanding we are a people who need one another. There is a need to share thoughts, to bounce ideas around, to just immerse ourselves in the joy of being with other people. There is a reason that hospitality was so cherished and lifted up in our Bible stories. Jesus shares a meal with Mary and Martha and Lazarus. He eats at the home of Zaccheus. With the help of his reluctant disciples he feeds 5000 plus on a hillside. And of course he shared a final meal in the Upper Room with his disciples. But my favorite story regarding hospitality actually comes from the Old Testament.
You will remember that one day Abraham was sitting outside his tent when three strangers approached. He didn’t run inside and hide or look the other way. They were just passing by. There was no need to greet them but he did. In fact, he begged them to come and sit for a spell. He washed their feet and offered them a little bread. Of course, he then ran and told his wife what to do! Then he shared a meal with the strangers, not only bread but a young calf as well. It was in that moment that Abraham learned that Sarah was going to have a child. He couldn’t imagine it. In fact, he and Sarah had a good laugh over the idea. And yet, it did happen. Abraham shared a meal with angels and a miracle happened.
Right now, we can’t invite a stranger or a friend into our homes. We are not being called upon to entertain angels. We can’t even celebrate Holy Communion. But we can do what we are encouraged to do through the Eucharist - Remember. Remember what God has done for us. Remember what God is doing for us. And in remembering do something for someone else even if it is just a smile on the street, a phone call, or a text. Connect and remember and in the remembering look forward to the day we will be together again.
Prayer: Gracious and eternal God, Fill me with the surety of your presence in my life and in my living. Fill my head with memories of the good times with family and friends. Fill my heart with hope that the future is in your hands and we will be together in the same room again. Stay with me during the day and during the nights and grant me your peace. Amen.
This Week’s Challenge
- Read Genesis 18:1-15 and think about the joy of shared meals and shared memories.
- Make every meal an event. If you are lucky enough to be with family, as you break bread, share good memories of your life together. If you are alone, think of past shared meals. Send a note to a friend, remembering a meal you shared.